Monday, January 22, 2018

From Ian:

Trump Dropped a Truth Bomb on the Middle East
The implications of unmasking Abbas are clear beyond any doubt. PLO never abandoned its goal of eradicating the Jewish state and rejects Jewish national independence within any borders. Israel and the international community have wasted 25 years and billions of dollars on a “peace process” with a corrupt and genocidal PLO leadership that refuses to let go of its fantasy of destroying Israel.

Since PLO, Hamas and UNWRA are obstacles to genuine peace between Arabs and Jews, they must be dismantled and replaced with a new Arab leadership committed to the welfare of its citizens and peace with Israel. PLO’s leadership are the pupils of Nazi, Communist and Islamist ideologies that are incompatible with genuine peace.

Time has come for Israel and the US to tell PLO that the game is up. With or without Abbas, PLO is a dead man walking and is in no position to demand anything from anyone. Only a mad megalomaniac despot living in fantasyland, issues threats to powerful nations like the US and Israel.

Just like peace in post-1945 Europe required the denazification of Germany, future Middle Eastern peace requires a denazification of the Arab world in general and the PLO-held territories in particular.

Humiliating defeat is never pleasant, especially for aggressors who got intoxicated with hubris and victories. Post-1945 Germany and Japan can attest to it. However, in the end, accepting defeat was the best thing that could have happened to the Germans and the Japanese. Their genocidal despotic regimes were replaced with genuine democracy and progress.

President Trump could become the Middle East’s nuclear Truth Bomb. Unlike the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, the truth bombs in the Middle East do not kill anyone, but force the Muslim Arab world finally to come to terms with reality and the permanency of the reborn Jewish state and its rebuilt ancestral capital Jerusalem.
Amb. John Bolton: time to 'stop playing charades' Give the West Bank to Jordan

PMW: Song on PA radio encourages Martyrdom for Jerusalem
A song on official Palestinian Authority radio encouraged Palestinians to "redeem" Jerusalem "with your life and blood":
"O Palestinian, Jerusalem is your name, your land, your heartbeat, and your mother. Redeem it with your life and blood, O [you] who raises my head in pride... O pained Palestinian, your head is lifted high with pride, the entire world hears your voice, only your resolve strengthens me... We are united, Muslims and Christians. So that Palestine will live, we must remain united." [Official PA radio station The Voice of Palestine, Jan. 1, 2018]

This song joins the similar messages Palestinian Media Watch has documented have come from PA and Fatah officials calling for "rage" and promoting violence since US President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, 2017.

The same ideal - to die as a "Martyr" for Jerusalem - was expressed by students belonging to Fatah's Shabiba Student Movement at Birzeit University. At an event, several participants wore mock bomb belts - imitating suicide terrorists - while masked in keffiyehs (Arab headdresses) and wearing yellow Fatah headbands. The participants in white held a Quran in one hand and held up one finger with the other signifying Allah. Other masked participants wore military uniforms and held Fatah flags with the Fatah logo that includes a grenade, crossed rifles, and the PA map of "Palestine" that presents all of Israel as "Palestine" together with the PA areas.
Song on official PA radio encourages Martyrdom: “Jerusalem… redeem it with your life and blood”

Pence speech rife with biblical references rocks the Knesset
US Vice President Mike Pence was met with one standing ovation after another in the Knesset, during his speech rife with Biblical references and expressions of support for Israel and the Jewish people.

Under US President Donald Trump, Pence said, US-Israel ties are stronger than ever.

“We stand with Israel, because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny...The people of the US have always held a special affection and admiration for the People of the Book. In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of Exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope,” he stated.

Pence, the first US Vice President to address the Knesset’s plenary, spoke to a packed room.

A devout Evangelical Christian, Pence paraphrased Psalms: “The USA is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends. And so we will pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that those who love you be secure, that there be peace within your walls and security in your citadels. And we will work and strive for that brighter future, so everyone who calls this ancient land home shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.”

Pence urged the Palestinians, who are boycotting his visit to the region, to come to the negotiating table.

“We recognize that peace will require compromise, but you can be confident in this: The USA will never compromise on the safety and security of the State of Israel,” he stated.

“The US remains committed to peace,” Pence stated, saying that the US will support a two-state solution if both sides want it. That comment was met by a standing ovation from the opposition, while the coalition noticeably stayed in their seats.
Pence in Knesset: Embassy to open in Jerusalem in 2019, Iran will never get bomb
In a landmark address to the Knesset on Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence pledged the US would relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the “end of next year,” called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table for peace talks, and vowed Washington would withdraw from the “disaster” Iran nuclear deal unless it was “fixed.”

The US vice president’s address earned numerous standing ovations from Knesset members across the political spectrum, and saw Arab lawmakers ejected from the plenary after launching a protest over Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.

In his remarks, Pence emphatically stressed that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

“Just last month, President Donald Trump made history. He righted a 70 year wrong, he kept his promise to the American people,” in announcing the recognition of Israel’s capital, said Pence, who is the first American vice president to address Israel’s parliament.

“The US Embassy will open [in Jerusalem] before the end of next year,” said Pence.
US VP Pence, in Jerusalem, Says Honored to Be in ‘Israel’s Capital’
US Vice President Mike Pence pointedly referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Monday as he met the country’s leader, further vexing Palestinians who have already snubbed his visit over an American policy shift toward the holy city.

President Donald Trump last month acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said he would move the US embassy there — dismaying Palestinians who claim the eastern part of the city and angering Arab states across the region.

Pence, who was part-way through an official visit to the Middle East, said in Egypt on Saturday and again in Jordan on Sunday that Washington would support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians if they both agreed to it.

On Monday he said he was honored to be “in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem” at the start of talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Echoing that sentiment, Netanyahu told the vice president, “This is the first time that I stand here where both leaders can say those three words: ‘Israel’s capital Jerusalem.'”

Pence said Trump’s declaration, which most of America’s main allies beyond the Middle East have also criticized, provided new opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Israeli PM Netanyahu Welcomes ‘Great Friend of Israel’ US Vice President Mike Pence on Official Visit
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warmly welcomed the arrival in Israel on Sunday of US Vice President Mike Pence.

“This evening a great friend of the State of Israel will arrive in Israel, a true friend, US Vice President Mike Pence,” Netanyahu told the weekly meeting of the Israeli cabinet.

“We will welcome him, I am very much looking forward to our discussions,” Netanyahu said. “We will discuss the efforts of the Trump administration to block Iran’s aggression and the Iranian nuclear program, and of course, advancing security and peace in the region.”

“Whoever truly aspires to realize these goals knows that there is no substitute for US leadership,” the prime minister said, in a barb aimed at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who this week stated his rejection of any US role in the peace process, while contemplating withdrawing Palestinian recognition of Israel at the same time.

Pence and his wife Karen landed at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday night, following a 36-hour visit to both Jordan and Egypt. Among the dignitaries greeting the couple were Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, and the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
More than a state visit
Israel has welcomed many American statesmen throughout the years, but U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is not here on a mere state visit. He is making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem as a devout Christian. He is here representing a vast community of Zionist Evangelical Christians who believe in the Biblical prophecies heralding the return of the Jewish people to Zion.

The Evangelical movement has launched nothing less than a revolution: For the first time in hundreds of years, Evangelicals are rejecting the central tenet of Catholic Christianity. This tenet, known as Replacement Theory, argues that when the Jews refused to accept Jesus as their savior, God abandoned us, his chosen people, and chose the church in our stead. Evangelicals, however, reject this notion and read the Bible more literally – the Israelites in the Bible remain the Israelites today, and if the prophecies predict the Israelites' return to Zion, then the Evangelists will help them come to pass.

They often repeat the words of the Prophet Isaiah who, 2500 years ago, declared: "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her triumph go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a torch that burneth" (Isaiah 62:1). They treat this verse as a divine command to enshrine Jerusalem. It was this belief that fueled the Evangelical push for American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They believe that the moment Donald Trump made his campaign promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, divine intervention guided the election in his favor.

Israel's Arab MKs and Muslim countries are riling against Pence and for good reason. They understand the political implications of the Evangelical theology on the future of Israel and particularly on Jerusalem.
Arab party lawmakers kicked out of Knesset for protesting Pence speech
Lawmakers from the Joint (Arab) List faction were thrown out of the Knesset plenum by parliamentary ushers after brandishing signs reading “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” as US Vice President Mike Pence began his address on Monday.

The phrase on the signs was written in both English and Arabic, but the Arabic line said “East Jerusalem.”

The remaining MKs in the plenum applauded loudly in an effort to drown out the shouts from the party’s 13 lawmakers in a scene that lasted less than a minute but saw angry pushing and shoving.

As the ushers finished clearing the MKs from the plenum, Pence continued his speech, saying he was “humbled to speak before such a vibrant democracy.”

Moments later, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh tweeted that he was “Proud to lead the Joint List in strong, legitimate protest, against the Trump-Netanyahu regime’s exaltation of racism and hatred, who speak of peace solely as lip service,”

PMW: Palestinians burn posters of Pence; Fatah: “Trump’s house will be destroyed”
As US Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Israel, PA and Fatah leaders are showing their anger with the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital by boycotting Pence's visit and refusing to meet with him.

Palestinians demonstrating in the streets are burning and stepping on posters with Pence's photo. Text on the posters in English:
"Pence you are desecrating our land Pence go home"

Last week, another Fatah post showing an image of Trump and the White House warned the US:
"Trump's house will be destroyed" [Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 14, 2018]

The text repeats PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' statement in his speech on Jan. 14, 2018, to the PLO Central Council, in which he cursed US President Donald Trump and said: "May your house be destroyed." Palestinian Media Watch reported on this insult and other anti-American statements made by Abbas, his advisor, and many other PA and Fatah officials:

"Let them [the US] not do us a favor by paying us money... We do not want anyone to pay us. And may [Trump] not tweet at me on Twitter, saying: 'We will not pay money to the Palestinians because they are refusing negotiations.' May your house be destroyed! When did we refuse?"
[Official PA TV, Abbas in speech to PLO Central Council, Jan. 14, 2018]

Fatah's Spokesman and Fatah Revolutionary Council member Osama Al-Qawasmi said "on behalf of Fatah and the Palestinian people" that Pence's visit "is unwanted in the region," and urged "all of the Arab brothers not to welcome [Pence]." Al-Qawasmi further stated that "Pence has made racist and extremist statements against the Palestinian people." [Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency, Jan. 20, 2018]
Grappo Palestinians Must Ditch Old Leaders, Chart New Course
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent visit to India is symbolic of Israel's growing ties with more countries, further integration into the global political and economic communities, and emergent economic clout and prosperity.

Meanwhile, in Ramallah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, rejected the reported proposal for the Jerusalem Arab suburb of Abu Dis as the capital of a Palestinian state, threatened to withdraw Palestinian recognition of Israel and to charge Israel for war crimes at the International Criminal Court, and revived efforts to push for international recognition of a Palestinian state.

His remarks sounded like a desperate and pathetic attempt to breathe new life into tired, shopworn words of a bygone period when the world actually listened. It's questionable whether even Palestinians bothered to listen. His cause and that of the Palestinian people is slowly slipping away.

One need only look at the apathetic response in the Arab world to the U.S. action. They are losing interest in a Palestinian leadership that seems stuck in a time warp and has failed to construct sustainable institutions for a state.

The Palestinians need a major overhaul in their leadership, and then a new approach to negotiations. In elections for a new PA leadership, all candidates should be required to subscribe to the Quartet's principles: recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of all previous agreements, and renunciation of violence. Hamas would not be eligible to participate unless it formally accepted the same principles.

A new Palestinian leadership should commit itself to building genuine institutions of democracy and to raising the economic well-being of the Palestinian people, regardless of the progress of negotiations with Israel.
Macron sent aide to lobby Palestinians over Trump peace plan
French President Emanuel Macron sent his deputy national security adviser Aurélien Lechevallier for a secret visit in Ramallah earlier this week to convey reassuring messages to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, French and Palestinian officials told me.

Their main message was that the Palestinians must give a chance to the Trump peace plan, which could be unveiled in the coming months.

Lechevallier met in Ramallah with the head of the Palestinian general intelligence service Majed Faraj, PLO secretary general Saeb Erekat and several other senior officials. According to French and Palestinian officials, Lechevallier emphasized that President Macron expects the Palestinian leadership to stay committed to non-violence and to the two state solution. But the main message, they said, had to do with the Trump peace plan.

According to the officials, Lechevallier told his Palestinian counterparts, "You might be right and the plan might turn out to be bad but don't blow it up right now. The plan might have things you don't like but maybe it will also contain interesting and positive things for you. It will be a shame if you throw the plan to the trash even before you received it. Read it first and then decide if you want to say no".

The bigger picture

Lechevallier's visit to Ramallah was part of a broader move by the French which started on December 22nd when Abbas visited the Elysee palace to see Macron — two weeks after Trump's Jerusalem announcement. French officials said Macron found Abbas frustrated and angry over Trump's announcement and over his upcoming peace plan.

According to French officials, Abbas told Macron in the December 22nd meeting that the leaders of the Arab world are totally consumed in their own domestic crisis and are not interested anymore in the Palestinian issue or in Jerusalem. Abbas added that for this reason Israel can do whatever it wants and create facts on the ground.

"I don’t want violence but it is hard for me to control the situation inside Fatah (Abbas's party) and the PLO", Abbas told Macron.

The French President tried to calm Abbas down, promised him to give him international support but demanded he avoid radical moves.
Trump is right to feel suckered: To promote Middle East peace, cut aid to Palestinians
The Palestinian Authority claims these rewards for violence are a form of welfare to support the downtrodden left without breadwinners. But a welfare system exists and has a budget of $220 million for 120,000 families, which is 40 percent less than the “pay to slay” budget, for 300 percent more people. The average family of an imprisoned terrorist receives more than five times the benefits of the average welfare recipient.

It is well known and extensively documented that Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials incite violence through state-run media and state supported clerics, and glorify terrorists through the naming of roads, schools and community centers in their “blessed” memory.

Now under pressure from the Trump administration to stop the “pay to slay” program, the Palestinian Authority says it won’t be bought by America. But the Palestinian population certainly could use America’s aid; per capita annual income is only $3,200, according to USAID, and unemployment rates are high. The best way the United States can support the Palestinian people is to require the Palestinian Authority, as a condition of receiving aid, to behave like a government that understands employment programs should not incentivize their citizens to become terrorists.

President Trump’s instincts are right, and he is right to feel suckered. U.S. aid to the Palestinians hasn’t gotten us much — and certainly not appreciation or respect. In fact, today it seems clear that foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority is part of the problem and a significant reason why peace is elusive.

President Trump should encourage the Senate to pass the Taylor Force Act, which reduces U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority because of its payments to terrorists. And he should make the shuttering of the Palestinian Authority prisoners and martyrs programs a condition for convening any peace talks.
Palestinians: No Difference Between Fatah and Hamas
In Ramallah, Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh echoed the Hamas position verbatim (although he also used harsher language): "Pence is unwelcome. Fatah and the Palestinian people reject Pence's visit and we call on our Arab brothers to boycott him." The Fatah official, who is closely associated with Abbas, went on to accuse Pence of being a "racist" and "extremist."

Such examples, which showcase how hard it has become to distinguish between Fatah and Hamas, can easily be multiplied. Abbas himself is also beginning to sound like a Hamas leader. His recent speech, in which he described Israel as a "colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews," sounds as if it were taken directly from the mouth of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar.

Make no mistake about it, however; neither Fatah nor Abbas woke up one morning and decided to change its position towards Israel and the US.

For those who have been following the rhetoric and actions of Abbas and his Fatah faction, the extremist anti-Israel and anti-US views and remarks do not come as a surprise. The glorification of terrorists and the denial of Jewish rights and history have always been a main pillar of the ideology of Abbas and Fatah. Abbas and Fatah have worked hard over the past two decades to create the false impression that they differ from Hamas. It now appears that the jig is up: their true colors are showing for all to see.

Indeed, Trump's announcement helped to expose the true sentiments of Abbas and Fatah. It is all out in the open -- Fatah and Hamas belong to the same school of thought: both advocate violence; both propagate the same hostility towards Israel and the US, and both seek the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews -- as many as possible.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Abbas To Hire People For Rally To Mark 14th Year Of His 4-Year Term (satire)
Ramallah, January 22 – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas completed thirteen years of his four-year term as president two weeks ago, and will pay residents of the Palestinian Authority to attend a public celebration in honor of the achievement, as an expression of popular support.

Elected January 9, 2005, Abbas began his fourteenth year in office with his political relevance, commitment to a negotiated peace with Israel, and his ability to deliver on any commitments more questionable than ever. An aide told reporters that the president, who also chairs the Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organization terrorist groups, took his cue from the Women’s March in Washington, DC and elsewhere marking the inauguration of Donald Trump as president last year.

“The point is actually the contrast,” explained Nabil Aburedeineh. “Whereas Trump faces a popular backlash over his womanizing, dishonesty, crudeness, prejudice, and much else, Abu Mazen faces no such accusations from his constituents. That alone should be cause for celebration, considering how miserable our people have continued to be since he took office. We intend to celebrate the vibrant Palestinian democracy by hiring people to come to a rally in honor or our eternal president’s inauguration of Year Fourteen in power.”
Abbas’ Call for ‘Peaceful Popular Resistance’ Defies Reality
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has issued another veiled, public call for violence and terrorism against Israelis.

Abbas called on Palestinians to continue “peaceful popular resistance,” in a speech at a recent Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council meeting, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports.

The problem is that the PA does not actually advocate for “quiet protest” through “peaceful means,” as Abbas claims. But Abbas knew that the world would be watching his remarks at the latest PLO meeting, and decided to put up a more moderate face when describing Palestinian “resistance.”

In reality, Abbas and the PA systematically promote violence and attacks against Israelis. The Palestinian leadership often uses the code word “popular resistance” in reference to individual terror initiatives — which has emerged as the norm in Palestinian terrorism recently.

During his January 14 address, Abbas also seemed to threaten US President Donald Trump, saying: “May your house be destroyed.”
Abbas's EU comfort zone
While U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the Middle East in an effort to promote a new American peace initiative between the Arab states and Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is on his way to a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels. Although Abbas' arrival to the capital of the European Union was scheduled before the dates of Pence's visit were announced, there is great symbolism in his finding "refuge" from the American administration in the lap of the European Union.

Instead of making bold moves and dealing with reality, Abbas has adopted the policy of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, a man to known to have avoided making decisions by flying off to destinations that supported his unyielding positions. By doing so, Abbas is escaping to his comfort zone and working to ensure the continuation of the conflict with Israel under the auspices and encouragement of the EU.

The EU's silence in light of the unprecedently aggressive rhetoric Abbas directed at Trump earlier this month serves as conclusive proof that the EU is uninterested in finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This was not the first time that Abbas – a certified Holocaust denier – has used sick conspiracy theories to distort Jewish history and Zionism. This man, who during his tenure acted to increase anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement among his people, cannot be a partner to any type of peace process.
Abbas at EU: Recognizing Palestine will give Palestinians hope for peace
Abbas made the remarks at a press conference at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, standing alongside EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini.

“We call on these states to recognize the State of Palestine,” Abbas said, referring to EU member counties.

“Recognition will not be an obstacle on the road to peace, but rather it will encourage the Palestinian people to preserve hope that peace is coming,” he said, adding, “It will encourage people to continue to hold onto the culture of peace that was disseminated among the Palestinain people over the years.”

Israel has said that recognition of “the State of Palestine” will harden the Palestinians’ negotiating position and make it more difficult to reach a final peace deal.

More than 130 countries have recognized “the State of Palestine,” but the vast majority of EU member states have not made such a move.
Abbas wins EU backing for Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem
The European Union assured President Mahmoud Abbas it supported his ambition to have east Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state, in the bloc's latest rejection of US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

At a meeting in Brussels with EU foreign ministers, Abbas repeated his call for east Jerusalem as capital as he urged EU governments to recognize a state of Palestine immediately, arguing that this would not disrupt negotiations with Israel on a peace settlement for the region.

While Abbas made no reference to Trump's move on Jerusalem or US Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the city on Monday, his presence at the EU headquarters in Brussels was seized on by European officials as a chance to restate opposition to Trump's Dec. 6 decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Mogherini, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, called on those involved in the process to speak and act "wisely", with a sense of responsibility.

"I want to reassure President Abbas of the firm commitment of the European Union to the two-state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states", Mogherini said.

Before Abbas' arrival, she was more outspoken, saying: "Clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem. That is a very diplomatic euphemism", in reference to Trump's position.
Paris suburb to recognize Palestinian statehood
The city council of a suburb of Paris said it would recognize what it called “the state of Palestine.”

The office of Gennevilliers Mayor Patrice Leclerc, a Communist Party of France politician, announced on Friday the move, which is symbolic and has no bearing on French foreign policy, French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

The so-called recognition will be made in an executive order to be signed Monday at city hall in the northern suburb of Gennevilliers, the statement said.

At least three other municipalities in the Paris region, Stains, Bondy, Vitry-sur-Seine, are preparing to take similar steps, the statement also said. Those municipalities have honored Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian terrorist and member of the PLO who is serving multiple life sentences in Israel for the murder of Israeli victims of terrorist attacks he helped plan.

“France by the actions of its former foreign minister Laurent Fabius spoke out at the end of 2016 about the possibility of recognizing Palestine in case the peace process hits a dead end. But nothing was done,” Leclerc wrote in the statement. “President Emmanuel Macron refuses to have France follow through but if thousands of localities in France issue this official order this taking up of positions by municipalities will lead to recognition.”
Slovenia to recognize Palestinian state next month — TV report
Slovenia is planning to recognize Palestine as an independent state next month, and three other European countries — Luxembourg, Ireland and Belgium — are thinking of following suit, Channel 10 news reported Sunday.

France, meanwhile, is working behind the scenes to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status at the European Union, the report said.

The moves follow US President Donald Trump’s December recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plan to move the US Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.

Trump said his declaration reflected reality on the ground, and was not intended to prejudge any future arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians regarding the disputed city, though he later said it had taken Jerusalem off the table. Welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders across most of the Israeli political spectrum, the move caused an uproar throughout the Muslim world and was panned by the United Nations, the European Union, and many European countries.

Last month, Slovenian Parliament Speaker Milan Brglez told Palestinian Ambassador Salah Abdel-Shafi that Slovenia’s recognition of a Palestinian state was “not in doubt,” but just a question of timing.
Britain to continue to fund UNRWA
Britain will continue to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) as well as “Palestinian refugees” across the Middle East, the country’s Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, stated on Sunday night.

Burt said in a statement quoted by Haaretz that his country also intends to provide "around £50 million ($69.5 million) in 2017/18" in order to aid Palestinian refugees.

His statement came following the United States’ decision from last week to significantly cut the aid it transfers to UNRWA.

"My officials are working closely with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and other European Union partners on how best to ensure continuity of essential services to Palestinian refugees at this time," Burt stated, according to Haaretz.

He said that Britain was "concerned at the impact on UNRWA's activities whenever unexpected reductions or delays in predicted donor disbursements occur."

"The UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across the Middle East," stated Burt.

His statement came in response to a query by MP Dan Carden, a shadow minister for international development in the British government.
The Coming War with Hizballah and Other Thoughts from Israel’s Former Chief of Military Intelligence
Amos Yadlin was the Labor party’s candidate for defense minister in Israel’s 2015 elections, served as deputy commander of the Israeli air force and later as the head of IDF intelligence, and in 1981 flew one of the planes that bombed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. In conversation with Zev Chafets, he discusses some of the threats and challenges confronting the Jewish state. On the possibility of war with Hizballah, Yadlin comments:

[Israel must] prepare not for a third war in Lebanon but for the first “northern war,” one that will be fought not only against Hizballah but against Syria and Iranians in Syria, all along the northern front. . . . Israel has a better air force [and] better intelligence [than its enemies], and it has learned the lessons of previous wars and implemented them. This time, for example, it will not differentiate between Hizballah and Lebanon. And if Bashar al-Assad joins the fighting, he could well lose everything he has gained, with Russian help, over the past two years. . . .

[Nonetheless], we will pay a higher price than we did during the Lebanon war of 2006, especially on the home front. Israel has developed a very effective defensive shield built on several layers and dimensions, including the world’s best missile-defense system. We have intelligence capabilities that will allow us to destroy some long-range rockets on their launch pads. We can also mitigate damage [at home] with an early-warning system that will give civilians a couple of minutes to reach shelter. But there will be substantial damage.

Israelis are resilient. But they are also critical. There is an asymmetrical balance of expectations on both sides. They want the IDF to protect them 100-percent, to win the war in six days, and to force the other side to raise a white flag of surrender. This will never happen. If we measure the score of the next war like a basketball game, Israel will win 99 to 19. Hizballah will declare a divinely inspired victory. Israelis will complain and nominate a committee to investigate the failure.
MEMRI: Calls for Jews to Return to Arab Countries Are Naïve; They Are Better Off in Israel
Palestinian expert on international law Dr. Anis Fawzi Qasim said that it would be naive to call upon Arab Jews to return to their home countries. "The Jews in Israel are better off than the Jews in the Arab world," he said, asking: "what exactly [would they be] returning to?" Dr. Qasim, who resides in Jordan, was a member of the advisory committee to the Palestinian-Jordanian delegation to the 1991 Madrid Conference. His remarks aired on Al-Quds TV on November 3, 2017

Large gun battle breaks out as Israeli forces bust Sinai drug smugglers
Israeli and Egyptian security forces engaged in a “massive” gun battle with drug-runners during a large-scale smuggling attempt over the Sinai border fence late Sunday night, which apparently resulted in the death of one suspect, a Border Police official said Monday.

Officers seized dozens of kilograms of marijuana and hashish — the plant’s processed resin — in the raid, in the northern Negev desert, the police said.

The Border Police’s southern intelligence unit had received information about the planned smuggling attempt, and officers were waiting to ambush the culprits when they arrived, a Border Police spokesperson said.

According to a police statement, late Sunday night, some 30 smugglers in the Sinai Peninsula climbed the Egyptian side of the border fence with ladders and began throwing bundles of drugs over to their Israeli counterparts, who loaded the bags into their cars.

Top Hamas official admits group courting Iran, Hezbollah
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar confirmed over the weekend that the Gaza Strip-based terrorist group was seeking to bolster its ties with Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah.

Al-Zahar's remarks, made in an interview with Palestinian satellite TV channel Al-Quds, seemed to substantiate an assessment by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said Friday that Hamas is investing considerable resources into establishing terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon, in order to threaten Israel.

"Our relations with Iran and Hezbollah have returned to their natural path and we intend to develop these relations," Al-Zahar's said. "We will expand our ties with Iran and Hezbollah," he added.

Iran has expressed support for Hamas' efforts to establish terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stating that arming Hamas in the area was "necessary for confronting the Zionist regime."

Khamenei noted that as Iran "helps the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, it provides assistance to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Sunni groups in Palestine and will continue this assistance."
Gaza businesses shutter in mass strike to protest economic crisis
Gaza’s entire private sector was due Monday to mount the biggest strike in years to protest a worsening economic crisis that is forcing many businesses into bankruptcy.

The strike was planned to last until 2 p.m.

A flurry of recent reports have warned that the enclave is on the verge of collapse, its 1.8 million inhabitants plagued by frequent electricity blackouts, undrinkable water and an outdated cellular network.

Although the Palestinian Authority has been controlling the Kerem Shalom Crossing — the main entryway for humanitarian aid and commercial goods into the strip — since earlier this month as part of a deal reached with Gaza’s rulers, the terror organization Hamas, consumer buying power is in constant decline, Hadashot News reported Monday.

“I’m 80 years old and I’ve never seen days like this,” a woman told the TV station.
Philippines to deport Hamas ‘rocket scientist’ over visa problems
The Philippines said Monday it would deport an Iraqi man described as a scientist for Hamas and accused of helping the Palestinian group lob missiles at Israel.

Iraq tipped off the Philippines about the presence of Taja Mohammad Al Jabori, who was arrested on Sunday, national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters.

However, the arrest was due to visa problems rather than any evidence of terror activity, the police chief emphasized.

“He’s an illegal alien, his visa is expired so he has to be deported right away,” Dela Rosa said.

“He admitted being a member of Hamas. He’s a chemist and he has been responsible for improving the rocket technology of Hamas in firing their missiles from their area towards the other side, [towards] Israel.”

The suspect will be deported to Iraq.

The police chief said it was the first time Philippine authorities had dealt with an alleged member of Hamas, a group labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.

The Islamist movement does not recognize Israel, with which it has fought three wars in recent years, and has vied with the rival Fatah movement for control of Palestinian territory.
Taliban searched for foreigners in attack on Kabul hotel, survivors say
Taliban militants who killed at least 22 people at a luxury Kabul hotel went from room to room searching for foreigners, survivors said Monday as more details of the victims emerged.

Insurgents armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide vests attacked the landmark Intercontinental Hotel overlooking the Afghan capital late Saturday in an assault that lasted more than 12 hours and prompted questions over how the attackers breached security.

Guests hid behind pillars and in rooms as gunmen sprayed bullets and set fire to parts of the six-story building. Some people climbed over balconies, using bed sheets in a desperate attempt to escape.

“They were saying kill the foreigners,” a 20-year-old hotel employee who gave his name as Hasibullah told AFP from his hospital bed.

He described hiding in a fifth-floor room and listening as the gunmen went from room to room, forcing doors open “with daggers” and killing those inside.

One other witness claimed he had seen the militants beheading guests.
Turkey Says Campaign Against US-Backed Kurdish Force in Syria Will be Swift
Turkey shelled targets in northern Syria on Monday and said it would swiftly crush the US-backed Kurdish YPG fighters who control the Afrin region, amid growing international concern over its three-day-old military operation.

Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies began their push to clear YPG fighters from the northwestern enclave on Saturday, opening a new front in Syria’s civil war despite calls for restraint from United States.

France has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday to discuss the fighting in Afrin and other parts of Syria.

The YPG’s Afrin spokesman, Birusk Hasaka, said there were clashes between Kurdish and Turkey-backed forces on the third day of the operation. He said Turkish shelling had hit civilian areas in Afrin’s northeast.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization tied to Kurdish militant separatists in Turkey and has been infuriated by US support for the fighters. Washington, which has backed the YPG in the battle against Islamic State in Syria, said on Sunday it was concerned about the situation.

Turkish anger at US support for the YPG is one of a number of issues that have brought relations between the United States and its biggest Muslim ally within NATO to the breaking point in recent months.
Syrian activists allege gas attack in Damascus suburb
Syrian activists and rescue teams said Monday that the Syrian government has launched an attack with suspected poisonous gas that has affected nearly 20 civilians in a rebel-held suburb near the capital Damascus.

The team of first responders known as White Helmets, or Syrian Civil Defense, said the attack hit a neighborhood in the Douma district early on Monday.

It said the rescuers evacuated more than 20 civilians, most of them women and children, from the area, which they said was hit with a suspected chlorine attack. The Ghouta Media Center, an activist-operated media outlet, also claimed the attack involved chlorine gas.

Activists said a foul smell followed a series of bombings that hit the Douma neighborhood.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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