Friday, January 19, 2018

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Palestinianism is over – someone please tell the British
By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he explicitly acknowledged the unique historic connection between the Jewish people, Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

That connection, which predated Islam and the short-lived Arab colonial occupation of the land, destroys the false claim of indigenous Palestinian entitlement upon which the war against Israel has rested.

Trump has also cut in half the funds the US provides for UNRWA, whose unique and false perpetuation of fictional Palestinian refugee status is key to the Arab war against Israel. And if reports are to be believed, his peace plan will offer something well short of a Palestine state.

No less crucially, Abbas realizes that the wider Arab world no longer cares about the Palestinians’ cause. Those Arabs have more urgent considerations, such as stopping Iran from taking over the region, and they need the US and Israel to help them.

The British government is reportedly dumbfounded by Trump’s decision to cancel his visit. Of course it is. Parroting the shallow and vacuous prejudices of the age, it has absolutely no grasp of the significance of the US president it so despises.

Britain now risks being left behind as the world shifts direction. Why should America continue to value its “special relationship” with a Britain that is still fighting the battles it fought so shamefully in 20th-century Palestine to help the Arabs suppress Jewish national self-determination – which even the Arab states no longer support? After that UN vote on Trump and Jerusalem, why should the US think Britain is on its side in the titanic battle for freedom, decency and Western values? And why should President Trump give preferential economic treatment to a country that believes he is quite insane while Mahmoud Abbas is entirely rational? Britain is the mother ship of political liberty and justice in the West. Tragically, though, it has slipped its moral moorings.

Until and unless it puts right its relationship with the Jewish people, it will continue to drift into the gathering storm
Caroline Glick: Israeli obstacles to peace
And then there is the fact that according to Palestinian surveys, more than a million Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria wish to emigrate. Whole villages around Ramallah are ghost towns because their residents live elsewhere. Why is this not relevant to the likes of Livni and Barak?

Why do the Israeli media fail to report these basic facts rather than make excuses for a tin pot dictator who spends his time inciting the murder of Israelis and pretending that the Palestinians are the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the Hittites, all rolled in one?

According to The Jerusalem Post, Trump intended to cut off US funding of UNRWA entirely this week. But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster convinced to simply reduce it.

According to the Post, “Israel” sided with the trio. But other reports over the past several weeks made clear that whereas Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu supports ending US support for UNRWA, the IDF General Staff opposes the move. Likewise, the IDF has scuttled repeated congressional bids over the years to end US funding of the Palestinian Authority due to its funding of terrorism and its antisemitic incitement.

The arguments are always the same. UNRWA, like Abbas’s security forces, “stabilizes” the situation.

Is there no one else who might “stabilize” the situation better than they do? Where might the Palestinians be today if the US had cut off their terrorism-encrusted leaders 17 years ago? Is there no option other than empowering regimes and institutions that indoctrinate and work toward Israel’s destruction?

Netanyahu responded to Abbas’s diatribe by saying that in a way, Abbas did Israel a favor. He showed that he really doesn’t care how big or small Israel is. He rejects Israel’s right to exist and objects to its existence regardless of its borders.

Netanyahu’s insight is true as far as it goes. But so long as the same failed and vapid elites who gave us the PLO as our peace partner 25 years ago still call the shots, his insight doesn’t go very far at all.
JPost Editorial: Pressuring Hamas
Hamas’s cynical exploitation of a UN-sponsored cease-fire put in place out of humanitarian considerations enabled its terrorists to surprise and kill Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul in the Gaza Strip in the midst of Operation Protective Edge.

Three-and-half-years later, Hamas is still taking advantage of Israel’s adherence to humanitarian rules as Hamas continues to disregard those same rules and regulations.

Hamas has no qualms about holding the remains of Shaul and Goldin as bargaining chips in direct violation of humanitarian principles. At the same time the terrorist group submits requests to Israel, many of which are approved, to admit Gaza’s residents – some of whom are relatives of Hamas terrorists – to receive medical treatment.

Hamas also expects Israel to allow visits by family and friends to Hamas terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons. And when Israel kills Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists, the expectation is that Israel will return these bodies.

The absurdity and injustice of this situation is unbearable for Simcha and Leah Goldin, the parents of Hadar.

American UN Ambassador Haley: Palestinians ‘Not Serious in Truly Getting to Peace’ With Israel
The Palestinians are “not serious in truly getting to peace” with Israel, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a Voice of America interview with Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday.

Asked about the recently-announced cut of American funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Haley asked, “Why is the United States have to be the only one that bails out everyone? Why do we continue to give the money?”

“You have 120 countries who voted against us [at the UN], that could more than take up the level of debt that UNRWA has,” she continued. “We need to start being smart about the way we spend. We need to start really looking at foreign policy and seeing what the US goals are and where we want to go.”

Watch the full interview with Haley below:

US Won’t Pay $45 Million Pledged for Palestinian Food Aid for Now
The United States will not provide $45 million in food aid for Palestinians that it pledged last month as part of the West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal led by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the State Department said on Thursday.

The State Department had said on Tuesday that Washington would withhold a separate $65 million it had planned to pay the UN agency that serves the Palestinians, saying UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert denied the withholding of the $65 million was to punish Palestinians, who have been sharply critical of Trump’s announcement last month that he would move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

In a Dec. 15 letter to UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, State Department Comptroller Eric Hembree had pledged $45 million to the West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal.

“The United States plans to make this funding available to UNRWA in early 2018,” according to the letter, seen by Reuters on Thursday. “An additional letter and contribution package confirming this contribution will be sent by or before early January 2018.”
Trump’s flip-flop-flip on UNWRA no surprise for his tempering security advisers
Rex Tillerson’s mission was delicate but not unfamiliar as he phoned US President Donald Trump last week: Persuade the boss to curb his own impulses on yet another potentially explosive national security issue.

Trump had stormed into the new year threatening on Twitter to cut off aid to the Palestinians after little Mideast peace progress. His UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, egged Trump on, pushing him to suspend all of a planned $125 million payment to the UNWRA United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees. Tillerson’s State Department and the Pentagon sought to preserve the full amount, fearful about the implications for millions of people and US partner governments in the Middle East.

In a phone call this past Friday, the secretary of state sold the president on a compromise: Give half the money, put the rest on hold. It would allow Trump to say he followed through on a threat, without further destabilizing the Arab world.

For Tillerson, it was a strategy derived by trial and error over a tumultuous first year under a president whose instinct to rip up the traditional playbook continues to shock the foreign policy establishment. It’s fallen to Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster to soften some of Trump’s most dramatic impulses, all while dealing with competing power centers and messy internal arguments that have repeatedly spilled into the open.
Dear Mr. Ambassador, why is Canada funding anti-Semitism?
I have spoken recently with many experts who have devoted their professional careers to assessing UNRWA operations and effectiveness. All report that UNRWA does not allow any third-party oversight of its curriculum, aside from “government officials” where the school is located (so, for example, Hamas authorities in Gaza, or Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank).

This is consistent with what Global Affairs confirmed for me on Tuesday, that Canada conducts no independent review of UNRWA. We are, actually, funding UNRWA staff to self-assess — which is precisely the problem. Canada’s claim to ensuring neutrality and fairness is severely compromised as a result.

I am certain you are familiar with the UN Charter, in particular Article 101(3), which requires that all UN staff uphold the highest standards of integrity, a quality that includes fairness and impartiality. This “neutrality” standard is reiterated in staff regulations for UNRWA and UN staff and is publicized on the UNRWA website. Yet, the evidence is blindingly clear that UNRWA has not lived up to this standard.

While I hope you enjoy your visit in Israel and the West Bank, and Canadians are no doubt looking forward to hearing of your findings and observations, I close with one question many of us would most like answered: Why are Canadian funds are being used to foment anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred?

Yours truly,

Vivian Bercovici

Vivian Bercovici was Canada’s ambassador to Israel from 2014 to 2016. She lives in Tel Aviv.
Minister Steinitz calls Abbas 'anti-Semite,' says he sabotaged the peace process
Member of the Security Cabinet and Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said Thursday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "buried" the peace process, adding it will not be possible to renew it as long as he is in charge of the Palestinian Authority.

"(There will be no further negotiations) as long as Abbas is the Palestinian leader, and so long as the moderate Palestinian leadership does not recognize the right of the Jews to a state of their own," Steinitz stated in an interview with Ynet.

The minister said this in light of Abbas' "ignorant" speech at the PLO's Central Council on Sunday, in which he called Israel 'a colonial project,' and his belligerent remarks in Cairo on Wednesday, when he said that the issue of Jerusalem could lead to "war, insecurity and instability if it isn't (the capital of Palestine)."

"Abbas is taking a very radical line," the minister claimed. "It is true that he says he will not take the way of terrorism, but he basically promotes it—with stipends for the families of terrorists who succeeded in killing Israelis.

"This time, though, what he said showed even greater support for acts of violence and terror against Israelis."
Israel Thrives: Responding to Abbas' rant
Much has been written about Mahmoud Abbas' recent rant attributed as a response to Trump's declaration about Jerusalem. Much has been made about how that rant proves that Abbas is not serious about peace and about how the media systematically ignore the parts that most directly make that point. However, I would like to suggest that Abbas' speech demonstrates the point I have made in the past about why our demand should be for for a three-part declaration:

The Jews are a people
The Jewish people are deeply connected to the Land of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular
The Pact of Umar has no place in the modern world

It is an open and shut case that Abbas' recent rant contradicts any acceptance of the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Therefore, if we present the three-part declaration as our demand to talk, the only justification one could offer for decrying Israel's cutting off talks in the wake of Abbas' rant would be that the three-part declaration is an unreasonable demand.

Countering the notion that it is an unreasonable demand could take some work. The major point in doing so is that failure to make the three-part declaration, or making it and then contradicting it even if less egregiously than in Abbas' recent rant, is demonstration of a belief that Israel's simple existence is an injustice and that any concession to reality is only momentary until reality would not hinder addressing that "injustice." However, the most important part in gaining acceptance for that demand would be to present it.
Washington Post Provides Cover for Palestinian Antisemitism
Yet, a January 14 report by The Washington Post merely referred to the conspiracy-laden diatribe as “combative,” and “brimming with colorful insults.” Only in the final sentence of the final paragraph, in a 711-word article, did the paper state: “In a comment widely reported by Israeli media, he [Abbas] quoted an Egyptian philosopher who had said that Israel’s quest for a national home for the Jewish people is a ‘colonialist project’ that has nothing to do with the Jews (“Palestinian leader attacks Trump, calling his peace deal the ‘slap of the century’).”

As the blogger Elder of Ziyon has noted, this “Egyptian philosopher” is a man named Abdelwahab Elmessiri, whose works include the Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism, which, among other things, dismisses the Jewish people’s connection to Israel as irrelevant.

Recent weeks have evidenced similarly poor reporting from the Post.

As CAMERA noted in The Algemeiner, The Washington Post failed to detail Abbas’ December 13, 2017 claim — made before reporters and others attending the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul — that Jews “are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history.

And sometimes the Post uses more than omissions to provide cover.

A January 5 Post report claimed that Abbas “has rejected armed conflict with Israel.” Yet, as CAMERA pointed out to the Post, Abbas not only incentivizes anti-Jewish violence via payments and other laurels to terrorists, but he has also personally lauded terrorist attacks.
EU mum on Abbas speech because ‘we don’t comment on comments’
The European Union remained silent on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s controversial address this week in which he accused Europe of having exploited its Jews for a “colonial project,” saying it wouldn’t respond to speeches.

“Our policy is not to comment on comments,” an EU spokesperson in Brussels told The Times of Israel.

“However, the EU reiterates its firm commitment to the two-state solution and to its existing, longstanding policies. A negotiated two-state solution, which fulfills the aspirations of both sides, is the only realistic way of bringing the lasting peace and security that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve,” the spokesperson said Wednesday night.

The EU routinely issues condemnations of Israeli plans to build housing units beyond the 1967 lines, arguing that such moves are illegal under international law and diminish the prospects of peace. The union was also very vocal in condemning the US administration’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

It was slow, however, to speak out on recent anti-regime protests in Iran, leading Israeli critics to accuse it of a double standard.
Israel is worthy and winning
There is an Israeli grand strategy of sorts, and it has been largely successful. It involves caution, vigilance, patience, and looking over the horizon for new partnerships. It has led to what Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies calls a “year of wonders,” with a string of Israeli strategic and diplomatic achievements.

Unfortunately, some progressive activists and politicians prefer to ignore Israel’s impressive achievements, and instead promote a narrative of Israeli blemishes and blunders. They are fixated on the rights of Palestinians, despite the objective problems, as well as on the rights of African infiltrators in Israel, of Bedouin in the Negev, of non-Orthodox Jewish religious denominations in Jerusalem, and so on.

All these are serious issues that require attention and responsible policymaking.

But they have become intersectional causes around which some people rally to confront the Israeli government, explicitly threatening that unless the government bends their way, Israel will lose global support and become an “immoral” or “apartheid” state. That approach generally involves gross simplification and misrepresentation of delicate issues, and is an unacceptable way to relate to Israel.

Sober and caring leaders should reject this approach. They should also cheer up, because Israel is worthy and is winning.
Netanyahu: If Abbas rejects the US as mediator, he doesn't want peace
"If he doesn’t want the US as a mediator, he doesn’t want peace," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's rejection of the US as the go-between in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"There is no substitute for the United States," Netanyahu told reporters upon landing back in Israel after a five day trip to India.

Netanyahu also addressed the recent thaw in ties with Jordan. He said that Israel “expressed regret” to Jordan over the shooting that took place at the Israeli embassy in Amman last year, but did not apologize.

Netanyahu said Israel will pay reparations to the Jordanian government, but not to the families.

He said that Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Einat Shlain, whom he holds in the highest esteem, will be promoted and reassigned to an another appointment.

Regarding the upcoming visit of US Vice President Mike Pence, Netanyahu said, “This is another expression of the strong ties between Israel and the US, and the very supportive approach of this administration.”
Macron trying to convince Abbas not to reject Trump initiative
French President Emmanuel Macron is attempting to convince Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas not to reject the peace initiative of U.S. President Donald Trump, Channel 10 News reported on Thursday.

According to the report, Macaron sent his senior political adviser, Aurelien Lechevallier, to a secret visit to Ramallah earlier this week. French diplomats said the move was coordinated with the White House and that the main message was that the PA should give the American peace efforts a chance.

Lechevallier reportedly met with PA intelligence chief Majid Faraj, PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat and other senior officials in Ramallah, stressing that President macron expects the Palestinian leadership to act to prevent violence and remain committed to the two-state solution. His main message, however, was for the PA not to reject Trump’s peace plan.

“Do not reject the Trump plan outright," he told the PA officials. "Give it a chance, maybe you're right, and the plan is bad and unacceptable, but do not blow it up now, do not cancel the Oslo Accords, do not reconsider the recognition of Israel. There will be things you will not like [in the plan], but there may be interesting and positive things for you in it as well. It would be a shame if you threw the plan into the trash before you saw it. Read it first and then decide whether to say no."

News of the French official’s secret visit to Ramallah follows last month’s meeting in Paris between Macron and Abbas, which came several weeks after Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Hamas: Abbas no longer a legitimate leader
Mohammed-Faraj al-Ghoul, chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council's Constitution Committee and one of the senior Hamas figures in Gaza, on Thursday attacked Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and called on him to step down.

Al-Ghoul noted that Abbas’s term in office is illegitimate since his original term after the elections ended years ago.

He rejected Abbas's claim that the Arab League had extended his term, noting that the Arab League had no authority to extend the term of Arab leaders, and that this question should be determined in accordance with the Palestinian Basic Law, which mandates the transfer of powers to the speaker of the parliament (a member of Hamas) who is supposed to arrange elections within two months.

In order to prevent such a scenario, Al-Ghoul claimed, Abbas deliberately prevents the convening of the Palestinian parliament and refuses to allow the parliament speaker to enter the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Kanou said that the Palestinian government, which received governmental powers in Gaza following the reconciliation agreement with Hamas, had become a government that had lost its character as a national consensus government and represented a single political stream.
U.S. to convert existing Jerusalem facility into embassy for 2019 opening
The Trump administration plans to retrofit an existing facility in Jerusalem into an embassy with the goal of moving its staff there from Tel Aviv in 2019, US officials said on Thursday.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal quoted US officials on record, who said the State Department plans to reconfigure an existing consular facility that the US has operated out of Arnona in West Jerusalem since 1948.

Announcing the controversial move last month, US President Donald Trump said he planned on setting forth architects and planners to design a new facility. And his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has told reporters that a formal move would be at least three years off.

But Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is leading the administration’s peace push, have since favored an expedited timetable, the Times reported. Tillerson continues to favor a longer timeframe.

“The secretary’s primary focus is on security,” said Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of state for diplomacy and public affairs, according to the Journal report. “We will not be moving to a new facility.”

The US building girds the Green Line, which served as Israel’s border before the 1967 war.

“We are going to retrofit a building” for a 2019 opening, he continued. “There is no plan for anything temporary.”
Pope Francis Promises Grand Imam He Will Keep Fighting for Two-State Solution in Holy Land
Pope Francis has promised to continue pressing for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, while supporting the special status of Jerusalem, independent of any state. He outlined his plan in a missive to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyib.

In his letter dated Jan. 18, the pope acknowledged an invitation by the imam to an international Conference at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University in support of Jerusalem, taking place in these days when the pontiff is on apostolic journey to Chile and Peru.

“The Holy See will not cease to urgently insist on the need for a resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians for a negotiated solution aimed at the peaceful coexistence of two States within the borders agreed upon between them and internationally recognized,” he said, “in full respect of the peculiar nature of Jerusalem, whose meaning goes beyond any consideration of territorial matters.”

“Only a special statute, also internationally guaranteed, can preserve its identity,” he said, “and its unique vocation as a place of peace recalled by the sacred places, as well as its universal value, allowing a future of reconciliation and hope for the whole region.”

“I assure you that I shall continue to invoke God for the cause of peace, of a true, real peace,” Francis wrote. “In particular, I raise heartfelt prayers so that the leaders of the nations, and civil and religious authorities everywhere commit themselves to averting new spirals of tension and to support every effort to make concord, justice and security prevail for the peoples of that blessed land that I cherish so much.”
Muslim conference: Jerusalem is holy to Muslims and Christians
The Al-Azhar International Conference in Egypt concluded on Thursday with the publication of an official declaration announcing the year 2018 as the year of Al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem –ed.).

The statement stresses that Al-Quds is the eternal capital of the independent state of Palestine, and that Al-Quds is not just “occupied” land or a Palestinian or Arab national issue but an Islamic and Christian holy place and an issue of Islamic and Christian faith.

According to the conference participants, the Arab character of Al-Quds has been a historical fact for thousands of years and "global Zionism" will not be able to falsify the facts since, the statement claimed, the Jebusites built the city in the fourth millennium BCE, long before the advent of Judaism.

In addition, the conference expressed full support for the steadfastness of the "Palestinian people" and the Intifada against the decisions of the American administration and the Israeli government regarding Jerusalem.

The participants in the conference appealed to the "wise" Jews and advised them to look at the periods of time in history in which the Jews were oppressed, except in countries that were under Muslim civilization.
BESA: Is It Possible to Make "the Ultimate Deal"?
President Trump seeks what he has called "the ultimate deal" for Israel and the Palestinians, one that would be advantageous to both parties. In the business world, a signed deal is final. But agreements between states and peoples are likely to be revisited as national interests change.

There is a crucial difference between such agreements and what transpires in the business world. Peoples have national aspirations that are stronger than any agreement. Those aspirations are not under the control of leaders and cannot be conceded in negotiations.

They continue to arouse passions even when their fulfillment has been deferred. How far, after all, can any people be expected to go in giving up its dreams?

The constraints of reality can indeed bring even ideological leaders to a compromise, but the resulting agreement is always temporary and awaits a strategic shift in which everything will be reconsidered. National passions can be repressed and deferred, but they do not dissipate.

A hundred years after the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish passion for lands that were under Turkish control before WWI continues to burn and to drive President Erdogan's regional policy.

For the Iranians, the golden age of the kingdom of Darius impels their current logic.
Netanyahu: Relations with Jordan back on track, new envoy to be named in days
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that relations with Jordan are “back on track” and indicated that he will name a new ambassador to Amman in the coming days.

Israel has not had an ambassador in Jordan since July, when two Jordanians were killed and an Israeli security guard was injured at Israel’s Amman embassy during an apparent altercation between them, whose details are the subject of disagreement between Israel and Jordan. The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis.

“We’ve put relations back on track, and I’m sure both sides have learned lessons,” Netanyahu said. “There is a peace treaty [between our two countries] that is an important interest to both states, and that found expression in the solution that was reached.”

Speaking to reporters as he returned to Israel following a five-day visit to India, Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s foreign minister, said former ambassador Einat Schlein would be moved to some other post.

“I will decide on the new ambassador soon. I very much appreciate the former ambassador and that will be shown in her next position,” he said.
Israel to reopen embassy in Jordan, which touts apology over shooting
A Jordanian government spokesperson said Thursday evening that he had received from Israel an “official memorandum” apologizing for the deaths of two Jordanians in a shooting incident at the Israeli Embassy in Amman in July, and the killing of a Jordanian judge in a separate incident in 2014.

Shortly afterward, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement announcing that the embassy, which was closed in the wake of July’s incident, will reopen.

The Jordanian spokesperson, Mohammad Momani, also said Israel had agreed to comply with all the kingdom’s preconditions for resuming regular diplomatic relations between the two sides. Those included, he said, bringing legal action against the Israeli security guard accused of killing the two Jordanians in the embassy compound, and offering financial compensation to all three bereaved Jordanian families.

In its statement Thursday night, the PMO confirmed it had come to an agreement with Jordan over both incidents, and said the embassy will “will return to full activity immediately.” Diverging from the terms announced by Jordan, it said Israeli authorities would come to a decision “in the coming weeks” as to whether the guard, Ziv Moyal, will stand trial over the shooting.
Liberman: Escaped terrorist ‘living like a fleeing dog on borrowed time’
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Friday that the terrorist who managed to escape during the security forces’ raid in Jenin this week in search of the cell that murdered Israeli father-of-six Rabbi Raziel Shevach was ‘living like a fleeing dog… on borrowed time.”

Speaking to reporters outside the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa after visiting the two Border Police officers injured in the operation, Liberman again thanked the security forces behind the raid in the northern West Bank city, saying “it was not a one-time event, but a continuous effort.”

“We will soon get to that same terrorist who managed to escape and settle an account with him. He needs to know that he is currently living like a fleeing dog. He lives on borrowed time, and we will catch him,” the defense minister said.

Earlier Friday, defense officials acknowledged that the head of the terror cell responsible for Shevach’s January 9 murder had managed to escape during the Jenin firefight early Thursday morning.
Soldier injured in West Bank car ramming attempt near popular baptism site
An IDF soldier was lightly wounded when a Palestinian driver attempted to ram soldiers at a checkpoint near Qasr el Yahud in the West Bank on Friday.

The driver swerved towards the soldiers after they refused him passage at the entrance to the holy site.

The driver attempted to flee to the Allenby Bridge, on the border with Jordan, but was arrested by authorities.

Rescuers Without Borders reported that one IDF soldier suffered a leg injury and was offered first aid.

Qasr el Yahud is a popular baptism site, where Christian pilgrims go to dip in the waters of the Jordan River. It is believed to be the site where Jesus was first baptized by John the Baptist.

BBC’s Knell reports on the Tamimi case again – and raises a question
However, in one of her final paragraphs Knell presents BBC audiences with a very different interpretation of Tamimi’s call for violence.

“At the end of the online video, Ahed calls for large demonstrations as “the only way to reach results”, but says US President Donald Trump must bear responsibility for any Palestinian violence, including stabbings and suicide attacks.”

Interestingly, a report in the Jerusalem Post shows that Tamimi’s lawyer Gabi Lasky used a remarkably similar claim in court.

“Gaby Lasky, a high-profile human rights lawyer and Meretz activist who is defending Tamimi, told the court Monday that the Palestinian teen mostly was protesting US President Donald Trump’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

She said Tamimi’s message was “Trump needs to take responsibility” for a negative decision which led to an outcry of Palestinian protests.”

And that raises the question (not for the first time) of whether Yolande Knell is a reporter or a political activist who compromises the BBC’s reputation for impartiality.
Gaza family kills own son after Hamas says he aided Israel
A Palestinian family said it had killed one of its members Friday after Gaza’s Hamas rulers said he aided Israel in killing three of the terrorist group’s commanders.

The family said in a statement that a relative shot Ahmed Barhoum dead, but did not say which family member pulled the trigger. It said they followed developments in the Hamas investigation and believed their son was guilty.

The family noted the relative was arrested and interrogated by the “resistance,” meaning he was detained outside the Palestinian litigation system. There was no immediate statement from Hamas.

The Hamas commanders were killed near the end of the 50-day war with Israel in 2014 during an airstrike on a house.

Hamas has executed dozens of Palestinians for collaboration since seizing Gaza in 2007.
'Hamas is establishing terror infrastructure in Lebanon'
Hamas is investing considerable resources into establishing terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday.

The Gaza Strip-based terrorist group "is currently trying to carry out terrorist attacks across Judea and Samaria, as well as develop new fronts, primarily in southern Lebanon. It wants to use that [area] to threaten Israel," Lieberman said.

Hamas, he continued, "is struggling to carry out terrorist attack from Gaza, because it faces a very difficult reality there. We will not tolerate a situation in which on the one hand, Hamas talks about a humanitarian crisis and the need for aid, while on the other hand it orders terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria and tries to establish a terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon.

"The newfound friendship between top Hamas officials and [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah is another thing we're monitoring closely. Every development will meet the proper response," Lieberman said.

The defense minister on Friday visited the two Israel Police special forces who were wounded in a Jenin raid targeting the terrorist cell that murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the Samaria outpost of Havat Gilad last week.
Nasrallah: Israel behind Lebanon car bombing of Hamas official
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday accused Israel of responsibility for the explosion that wounded a top Hamas official in Lebanon on January 14.

“We expect Lebanese authorities to treat this incident as a serious violation of Lebanese sovereignty,” he said during a televised address to commemorate Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria.

Hamas’s political bureau in Lebanon has also suggested Israel may have been involved in the car bomb that injured Mohammad Hamdan in the city of Sidon, though Israeli ministers have downplayed that possibility.

Nasrallah also denied US allegations that his terror organization deals in narcotics and money laundering, calling the claims “entirely detached from reality.”

Earlier this month the US Justice Department announced the creation of a special task force to investigate what it called “narco-terrorism” by the powerful Lebanese organization.
In Wake of IRGC Spying Incident, AJC Asks Germany to Expel Iranian Ambassador
The news reported earlier this week that German police are seeking ten Iranian agents tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has prompted the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to call on Germany’s foreign ministry to expel Iran’s ambassador, Benjamin Weinthal reported Wednesday in The Jerusalem Post.

Germany’s government protested to Iranian Ambassador Ali Majedi following the conviction of a Pakistani man for spying on Jewish interests in the country. The ambassador was told that “spying on people and institutions with a particular relationship to the state of Israel on German soil is a blatant violation of German law.”

“We expect clear political steps. Diplomatic dialogue alone is not enough here. We need a clear public measure,” said Deidre Berger, director of the AJC’s Berlin office. “The expulsion of the ambassador [Ali Majedi] would be an important first signal.”

The Israeli embassy told the German newspaper, Bild, “we again see how active the Iranian regime in Europe and Germany is. It maintains an infrastructure for terrorism.”

Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute, speaking of the IRGC plot to spy on Jewish and Israeli interests in Germany, assessed that “this is nothing short of a hostile act against an EU member state by the world’s foremost state-sponsor of terrorism. There can be no more business as usual for the EU with Iran.”
Can the U.S. Still Help Iran’s Anti-Government Movement?
While the protests in Iran are disappearing from the headlines, the sources of the resentment that fueled them remain very much present. Is there anything more the U.S. can do to encourage the demonstrators and dissidents? Can pressure on the ayatollahs—whether in the form of sanctions or seeking to contain Iran in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen—further weaken their control over the Iranian people? More broadly, what can be done to reverse eight years of American appeasement of the Islamic Republic? Brian Katulis, Charles Lister, Omri Ceren, and Michael Pregent address these and other questions. (Moderated by Joyce Karam. Video, 82 minutes.)

Turkish writer Asli Erdogan: 'Thousands of students are in jail for one tweet'
She has the same name and nationality as the Turkish president, but the similarities stop there. Writer Asli Erdogan is an outspoken critic of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on opponents following the failed coup of July 2016.

Having just picked up the Simone de Beauvoir prize for Women’s Freedom in Paris, Erdogan tells FRANCE 24 about the situation facing intellectuals, journalists and students in Turkey – and about her upcoming trial.

"People are afraid to breathe," she says. "Europe only hears about the writers, the journalists. But thousands of university students are in jail for just one tweet."
Researchers: Lebanese Security Agency Turns Smartphone Into Selfie Spycam
Lebanon’s intelligence service may have turned the smartphones of thousands of targeted individuals into cyber-spying machines in one of the first known examples of large-scale state hacking of phones rather than computers, researchers say.

Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security (GDGS) has run more than 10 campaigns since at least 2012 aimed mainly at Android phone users in at least 21 countries, according to a report by mobile security firm Lookout and digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The cyber attacks, which seized control of Android smartphones, allowed the hackers to turn them into victim-monitoring devices and steal any data from them undetected, the researchers said on Thursday. No evidence was found that Apple phone users were targeted, something that may simply reflect the popularity of Android in the Middle East.

The state-backed hackers, dubbed “Dark Caracal” by the report’s authors — after a wild cat native to the Middle East — used phishing attacks and other tricks to lure victims into downloading fake versions of encrypted messaging apps, giving the attackers full control over the devices of unwitting users.

Michael Flossman, the group’s lead security researcher, told Reuters that EFF and Lookout took advantage of the Lebanon cyber spying group’s failure to secure their own command and control servers, creating an opening to connect them back to the GDGS.

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