Friday, January 26, 2018

From Ian:

Amb. Haley Says Hate-Filled Speech by Abbas Shows He’s Not Ready to Make Peace
Referring to a recent “hate-filled” speech given by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which he declared the Oslo Accords dead, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council Thursday, “A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace.”

Haley, who was addressing the Security Council during its monthly meeting to address the Middle East, said that she would “set aside her usual practice” of highlighting the Iranian threat to the Middle East and instead address what she called the “important element” of making peace, specifically “leaders who have the will to do what’s needed to achieve peace.”

Haley cited the example of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who addressed Israel’s Knesset and told Israel, “You want to live with us in this part of the world. In all sincerity, I tell you, we welcome you among us, with full security and safety.” The words, Haley said, made “Israel understand that it had a partner with whom it could make those painful compromises” that were necessary for a peace deal with Egypt.

In contrast, in his recent speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization Central Committee, Abbas “declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead. He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American President. He called for suspending recognition of Israel. He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers.”

“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace,” Haley observed. And while she said that the United States “remains fully prepared and eager to pursue peace,” which would require compromise, but “hate-filled speeches and end-runs around negotiations take us nowhere.”
Nikki Haley to U.N. Security Council: Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat?

Nikki Haley to the Security Council: Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat? - Full Transcript

Trump: Money Will Be Cut Off to Palestinians if Leaders Don’t Engage in Peace Negotiations
Trump addressed the United Nations vote from December to condemn the planned embassy move in which only a handful of countries voted in favor of the U.S. decision. He noted that the United States was "out in the wilderness by ourselves."

"We give billions of dollars away every year to countries and in many cases those countries don't even support us, they don't support the United States," Trump said. "Israel has always supported the United States, and so what I did with Jerusalem was my honor, and hopefully we can do something with peace."

Trump went on to say that the Palestinians, who received hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aide and support, disrespected Vice President Mike Pence when their leaders said they would not meet with him during a recent visit to the Middle East.

"That money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said beside Netanyahu. "Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace and they're going to have to want to make peace, too, or we're going to have nothing to do with it any longer."

Prior to Trump's remarks, Netanyahu also commented on the historic nature of the administration's commitment to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Pence announced on Monday the move is planned for 2019.

"I want to say, this is a historic decision that will forever be etched in the hearts of our people for generations to come," Netanyahu said of Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "People say that this pushes peace backward; I say it pushes peace forward because it recognizes history, it recognizes present reality. And peace can only be built on the basis of truth."

The prime minister also said the Israeli people support Trump completely, especially regarding his stance on backing out of the nuclear deal with Iran if "fatal flaws are not fixed."

Caroline Glick: Pence and Pew, present and future
Vice President Mike Pence gave an epic speech at the Knesset this week. His was the most powerful embrace of Zionism and the Jewish people any foreign leader has ever presented. Pence’s fluency in Jewish history, and his comprehension of the centrality of the both the Bible and the Land of Israel in the vast flow of that history in far-flung-exile communities across time and space was spellbinding. He touched the hearts of his audience, causing knots in the throats of most of the people sitting in the Knesset on Monday afternoon.

Pence’s speech was rendered poignant and the friendship he bore became tinged with urgency with the publication, the very next day, of the latest Pew Center survey on American views of Israel.

Speaking in the name of the American people he represents, Pence said on Monday: “The friendship between our people has never been deeper.”

And when it comes to the Republican voters who elected President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence a year and two months ago, Pence is certainly correct. But the Pew data showed that on Israel, as on so many other issues, the cleavage between Republicans and Democrats is vast and unbridgeable.

Most of the coverage of the Pew survey focused reasonably on its main finding. The good news is that overall American support for Israel over the Palestinians remains more or less constant, and overwhelming. Forty-six percent of Americans support Israel over the Palestinians while a mere 16% of Americans support the Palestinians against Israel. The numbers haven’t changed much since polling began in 1978.

But then the news becomes more fraught. The disparity between Republican support for Israel and Democratic support for Israel has never been greater.
Whereas 79% of Republicans support Israel over the Palestinians, only 27% of Democrats do. Moreover, the further one goes to the Left among Democratic voters, the more anti-Israel the respondents become. Liberal Democrats are now nearly twice as likely to support the Palestinians over Israel as they are to support Israel over the Palestinians. Thirty-five percent of liberal Democrats support the Palestinians against Israel. A mere 19% support Israel more than the Palestinians.
John Bolton: Mike Pence in the Middle East
In Israel, Pence’s last stop, the existential issue remains Iran’s nuclear-weapons threat, complicated by North Korea’s rapid progress toward achieving a delivery capability for thermonuclear warheads that would almost certainly be available to the ayatollahs for the right price. Most immediately, the vice president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the chance to consult on the urgent need to encourage and assist (publicly or behind the scenes) Iran’s opposition, whose recent demonstrations threatened the very existence of the Tehran regime.

The recent revelation of yet another secret Obama administration deal with Iran, with additional unilateral American concessions, pledged Washington not to sanction the International Republic of Iran Broadcasting (“IRIB”), Tehran’s state monopoly of broadcast radio and television. Reached within the framework of the Intelsat telecommunications treaty, this agreement should either be abrogated or ignored, as allowing Iran’s opposition to communicate more effectively across Iran, and limiting IRIB’s pro-regime propaganda would be powerful tools to weaken the ayatollahs further.

The United States and Israel must also avoid the latest snare set by the Europeans, who are desperately seeking to prevent the Trump administration from doing what Trump has repeatedly said he wants to do, namely exiting the failed Iranian nuclear deal. An American-European “working group,” announced while Pence was in Israel, is the latest idea, as if anything will at this point persuade Iran (backed by Russia and China) to give up any concessions won from Obama.

Instead, the working group will divert attention from the intense allied consultations that should be underway, namely on increasing the pressure on Tehran once Washington formally withdraws from the deal in May. Israel, of course, will welcome the withdrawal, but there must be diplomatic preparation both for such an announcement and the West’s follow-up actions that will make clear that denuclearization is Iran’s only way forward.

Throughout his trip, Vice President Pence proved adept at navigating the complexities of Middle Eastern politics, while also providing a reassuring contrast to the ongoing obstructionism in Congress over keeping the US government operating. It would not be surprising to see Pence taking a larger international role in advocating Trump administration foreign policies on the international stage.
A tale of two speeches
I've been privileged to attend the two great speeches of this decade in the Knesset plenum: that of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (exactly four years ago, January 20, 2014) and that of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (this week). Two uplifting experiences: one moral and one spiritual.

I felt that each speech was an epoch-making event that perhaps transforms the course of history. I felt in the presence of something momentous.

In his soaring speech to the Knesset, Harper articulated a principled approach that calls out the hypocrisies and shames the injustices of what too often passes as "politically correct" policy regarding Israel. He savaged the campaign to boycott and isolate Israel.

"In the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy 'to go along to get along' and single out Israel. But such 'going along to get along,' is not a 'balanced' approach, nor a 'sophisticated' one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong. Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant. And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

"As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students. Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.
Caroline Glick: The U.S. Is Quietly Sidelining a Turkey in Decline
The U.S. has no interest in an open breach with Turkey. Any such breach will only strengthen Erdogan’s position at home and in the wider region. And given Turkey’s military weakness and the Kurds’ military power, America’s best bet is to keep its head down as Turkey insults it, while supporting the Kurds on the ground as they supplant the Turks as America’s partners in the field.

Rather than express dismay as Turkey moves further and further into the Russian-Iranian camp and away from the U.S., the administration can simply shrug its shoulders and let the chips fall. In this context, it makes sense that the administration did not try to prevent Turkey from purchasing the S-400 anti-aircraft system, which endangers the F-35 program.

Rather than trying to convince Erdogan not to walk out of NATO by rendering his weapons systems incompatible with NATO systems, last November, Assistant Undersecretary of Defense for International Affairs Heidi Grant simply let it be known that Turkey’s decision would have consequences for its planned purchase of 100 F-35s.

Speaking to Defense News, Grant said that the Turks “are a sovereign nation. They can choose to go with other partners. But I have made it very clear that it makes it a little more difficult for our partnership as a coalition because we will not be interoperable. As of right now, our current policies are, we would not be interoperable with Russian equipment.”

Turkey’s invasion of Afrin, like so many of its other actions in recent months and years, make it clear that it can no longer be considered a U.S. ally.

And a close examination of the Trump administration’s actions and statements indicate that not only is the U.S. no longer treating Turkey like an ally. It is also taking steps to neutralize the threat Turkey poses to American interests while cultivating a new alliance with the Kurds that will survive Turkey’s current slide into irrelevance and grow stronger in the coming years.
Netanyahu Proposes New Political Model to Cultivate Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a new political model that does not exist anywhere in the world so Israel could peacefully coexist with the Palestinians.

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Netanyahu touted the possibility of a peace deal between Palestinians and Israel based on his proposed political model, Israel Hayom reported Friday.

The prime minister said the model would allow Palestinians full authority to handle their own affairs, except when it comes to security. He further explained they would be able to govern themselves, have their own flags, and establish their own embassies, as long as they did not pose a threat to Israel.

In this never-before-seen political model, Israel would have full control over security in Israel, including in the Jordan Valley.

Despite sharing his ideas, Netanyahu wants to wait and see what sort of peace proposals come out of the Trump administration. He said it was a "fantasy" to think any other entity than the United States could broker peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu made sure to reiterate that any deal going forward or any peace talks had to acknowledge that Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel.

On the topic of the Palestinian ally Iran, Netanyahu said under the Iran nuclear deal, the "preeminent terrorist state" has the ability to produce up to 200 nuclear bombs and he "won't let that happen."

"I don't particularly care if they [the U.S.] fix the deal or if they cancel the deal," Netanyahu said. "The important thing for me is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear arsenal, because Iran not only spreads terrorism worldwide, Iran openly says it's going to use those weapons—and use every weapon they have—to annihilate Israel. We're not going to let that happen."
‘We’re keeping the holy sites’ in any peace deal, PM vows
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday that Israel would retain control over Jerusalem’s holy sites in any peace deal, while ensuring “complete religious rights for those of all faiths.” His comments came amid speculation over the content of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

“We’re keeping the holy sites and the status quo, and I want to stress that under any arrangement that we have, we will always keep the status quo at the Temple Mount and all of the holy sites,” Netanyahu said. “Our position is that Jerusalem should remain united under Israel’s sovereignty with complete religious rights for those of all faiths.”

By “holy sites,” Netanyahu was presumably referring in particular to sites of religious significance in Jerusalem’s Old City, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and subsequently annexed. These include the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In an onstage interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum, Netanyahu also praised Trump’s announcement December 6 that his administration formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and rejected speculation that the declaration would embolden Israel to annex territory in the West Bank.
Palestinians: Peace ‘off the table’ if Trump doesn’t reverse Jerusalem move
The Palestinians rejected US President Donald Trump’s fresh threat to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid on Thursday, saying peace talks are “off the table” if the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital isn’t reversed.

Ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos, Trump said the US would no longer provide aid to the Palestinians if they refused to engage in US-brokered peace talks with Israel. He also said he’d taken Jerusalem “off the table” with his December 6 recognition of the city as Israel’s capital — a move that led the Palestinians to freeze ties with the US.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in response that the president’s latest remarks showed “the US has disqualified itself from playing a role in achieving peace” and that his Jerusalem decision was a “wake-up call” to Arab leaders.

“Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table, rather the US is outside the international consensus. Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table,” said Erekat. “There will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine.”
Palestinian envoy to US says Trump’s Jerusalem decision was a ‘backstabbing’
President Donald Trump’s recognition last month of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital amounted to “backstabbing,” the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) envoy to Washington said.

Husam Zomlot delivered his first remarks Thursday since the Dec. 6 recognition, addressing the Middle East Institute, a think tank. A main contact between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority, Zomlot conveyed a measure of the fury with Trump that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivered at a PLO Central Council meeting last week.

But he also recommitted the Palestinians to the two-state solution and to continuing to seek engagement with Israelis.

The remarks, while defiant, also underscored a key Palestinian weakness, one Zomlot said his side must take blame for: They had failed to make their case to the American people, while domestic support for Israel in the United States remained strong.

“We need to start the real process of either removing Israel-Palestine [as a domestic issue] or making Palestine a domestic issue,” he said. “But just to keep Israel as a domestic issue and not Palestine — that hasn’t worked for 26 years.”

He said Palestinians might target Congress, the elites, the media and the Jewish community.
US said to mull shuttering PLO office in Washington
The US is reportedly considering shutting down the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, the de facto embassy of the Palestinian Authority in the US, if Ramallah continues to refuse to take part in peace talks.

Israel’s Hadashot TV news reported Thursday that the step is being considered as part of the Trump administration’s steady ratcheting up of pressure on the Palestinian leadership amid growing tensions between the PA and Washington.

The report, by the network’s senior diplomatic correspondent Dana Weiss, did not cite a source and could not be immediately confirmed.

If the US is considering such a step, it wouldn’t be the first time.

In mid-November, the US State Department informed PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki that the PLO office in DC would be closed because the Palestinians had violated a 2015 US Congressional mandate.
Trump’s Mideast plan: Take it or leave it
Knowing Donald Trump, he won’t give anyone an early warning. He’ll just deliver a festive speech and present his “ultimate deal” for the Middle East.

There won’t be long negotiations with the two parties, and he won’t convene a conference, like American presidents have done in the past. He’ll simply present everyone with a fact: This is the deal. Take it or leave it.

Eight months ago, the US administration declared that the Trump plan would be presented in March 2018. On Tuesday, a senior American official said ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s departure back to the United States that the plan would likely be unveiled this year and that “both sides have to be ready for it.”

It’s no wonder, therefore, that the apprehension of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah keeps growing. There’s a reason why Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is shooting uncontrollably, cursing Trump and trying with all his might to get the Europeans to influence the expected declaration’s content.

In recent months, the Palestinians collected information, some of it based on rumors, from every possible source. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, compiled the information into a pessimistic document assessing what would be included in Trump’s plan. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, it’s a train which is quickly headed in their direction, and they are unable to stop it or change its route.
Report: Jordanian King told Lebanese PM Arabs Must Surrender to Trump’s Minimalist Peace Plan
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri heard “disturbing” news from Jordanian King Abdullah II, who warned him of the danger of resisting President Trump’s peace plan, the Beirut-based daily Ad-Diyar reported on Friday. The meeting between the king and the PM took place on the sidelines of the Davos summit in Switzerland, and could mean a “black cloud for both countries’ attempts to deal with both the Syrian and Palestinian refugee crises,” Ad-Diyar noted, quoting Jordanian senior officials.

In the meeting, Abdullah alerted Hariri to the danger of losing the Trump administration’s funding for Palestinian refugee camps in both their countries, insisting that the president does not want to continue paying. For both Lebanon and Jordan, being able to fund the refugee population is an existential problem, as both host countries have been torn in the past by uprisings of their “Palestinian guests.”

According to Ad-Diyar, the king, who told Hariri he was “appalled” by what is being waged in the “closed rooms” in Washington DC, spoke frankly, warning that Trump will not give anyone an early warning. He will simply take a public stand when the conditions are ripe to impose the “huge deal” without being interested in “deep” negotiations with the parties. The Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority will simply be told to put up or shut up, this is the plan and you have to implement it.

According to Ad-Diyar, the Jordanian side expects that the Trump deal will be ready for prime time in March 2018. The Jordanian king described Trump’s plan as a speeding car without brakes, advising Hariri not to believe those who tell him Trump doesn’t have a plan.

Council of Europe: Palestinians must halt stipends for terrorism
For the first time in its history, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Thursday, called for the Palestinian Authority to halt its payments to incarcerated terrorists and their families.

Israel swayed the council to include a denunciation of terrorist payments as part of its passage of an overall resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The bulk of the resolution was critical of Israeli actions over the pre-1967 lines and denounced US President Donald Trump’s declaration that recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“After a persistent effort we succeeded for the first time to include in the final report [resolution] a clear call to stop support for terrorists and their families,” said Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, who addressed the council in Strasbourg, France.

But the bulk of the debate dealt with Trump’s Jerusalem statement.

Palestinian representative Muhammad Faisal Abushahla said the US president ignored Israel’s “occupation of Jerusalem” and that his declaration denied “Palestinian rights in Jerusalem as their capital for thousands of years.”
How Trump Can Help the Palestinians and Promote Peace
UNRWA’s leadership and supporters are now howling with displeasure. A campaign is now underway to portray the U.S. as taking food and medicine out of the hands of children and the elderly. It’s worth noting here that this would be the case only if UNRWA has already burned through the $60 million the U.S. doled out a few weeks ago. But also: Since when does a United Nations-run agency have the right to demand an annual gift from the U.S. taxpayer, let alone dictate the schedule on which those gifts are made? These are voluntarily charitable donations, not mandatory assessments.

If the U.S. is expected to continue as UNRWA’s biggest benefactor, the management of the agency needs to fundamentally change. The U.S. should assume a permanent role in the agency’s governance. This could include the installation of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, or (more realistically) one of America’s other capable diplomats at the U.N. in New York, as its chair. With that title ought to come the basic oversight prerogatives reserved for any nonprofit’s board of directors and top donors—establishment of performance metrics, evaluation of key staff, freedom to audit any program or expenditure, and the ability to shape the mission, mandate and future of the organization.

This does not mean that the U.S. should halt funding for those most in need. On the contrary. But there must be a plan to move UNRWA’s 5 million dependents from international welfare to self-sufficiency.

The culture of hopelessness and permanent dependency in the Middle East breeds terrorism and violence. By contrast, economic self-sufficiency and advancement produce peace and tolerance. Today, UNRWA stands for the former; under American leadership, it can transform to the latter.
Danny Danon: Moving beyond UNRWA
In countries where Palestinians have been granted citizenship, the refugee status should be revoked and aid should instead be provided to the host country to assist in their absorption and acclimation.

Similarly, countries that have not yet granted citizenship to Palestinians who have lived there since 1948, should be incentivized to finally end their refugee status. In territories where neither of these policies is an option, existing UN agencies can step in to ease the plight and provide essential services for those in need.

FINALLY, there is absolutely no justification for UNRWA’s operation in areas governed by the Palestinian Authority. The PA receives almost $700 million in foreign aid annually. Half of this sum is spent paying stipends to convicted murderers and other terrorists.

If the international community were to insist that its aid be used for actual humanitarian purposes, and even supplement it with aid rerouted from UNRWA, then those who have called Ramallah, Nablus and other Palestinian cities their home for almost seven decades could be incentivized to finally relinquish their refugee status.

The new American policy provides the UN and international community with the opportunity to institute some fresh thinking into the quagmire that is the issue of Palestinian refugees. The naysayers and alarmists are sure to reject these recommendations out of hand and demand that UNRWA continue to operate under its current mandate.

Those, however, who really care about the plight of Palestinians should insist that the real danger lies in continuing to pursue policies that have failed to bring peace, tranquility or prosperity to the Palestinian people.
ECAJ: Should the United States Cut Aid to the Palestinians?
Attempts have been made to justify the favoured treatment the UN gives to descendants of refugees who happen to be Palestinian. It has been argued that if Jews have returned to their land with international endorsement after 1,800 years of dispersion, the Palestinians should have the same right after 70 years. This just does not stand up to scrutiny. Jews returning to their ancient homeland have never claimed to be exercising an individual right of return as refugees. They have never claimed to be returning to their individual homes. Rather, they have claimed a collective right of national self-determination which entitles Jews, wherever they may live, to return to their national home, the State of Israel.

For the 99% of Palestinians classified by UNRWA as "refugees" who are in fact descendants of refugees, and have never fled from their homes, Israel has long accepted that they too have a collective right of national self-determination which would entitle them, wherever they may live, to return to a future State of Palestine, but not to Israel. Israel has also long accepted that they have a right to be compensated for the property they or their forebears lost in the 1948 war. The Arab states have yet to make a similar commitment to compensate the 820,000 Jews they expelled from their own countries after 1948.

There appears to be no good reason why there is one UN agency and one set of rules for Palestinian refugees and another agency and another set of rules for all of the world's other refugees. UNRWA explains this anomaly thus: "As UNRWA was set up in 1949, Palestine refugees were specifically and intentionally excluded from the international refugee law regime established in 1951."

However, this explanation only provides the historical reason for the existence of the two agencies, not a justification, and does not give a reason why the two agencies should not be merged, and why the criteria for determining who is a refugee should not be standardised, so that the same rules apply to everybody.
Celebrities Express ‘Horror’ over Trump Cuts to U.N. Agency for Palestinians
Actors Hugh Grant and Viggo Mortensen are among more than 25 celebrities and public figures expressing “horror” over President Donald Trump’s decision to cut funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, an advocacy group said Thursday.

“The real target of this lethal attack is the Palestinian people themselves,” the group said in a joint statement. “It has been launched with the clear aim of dismantling their rights, by dismantling the institution that is charged with protecting them.”

Actresses Gillian Anderson, Olivia Wilde, Emma Thompson and Tilda Swinton were also among the signatories.

The letter was released by the Hoping Foundation, a London-based group that assists Palestinian children.
[run by Karma Nabulsi, PLO representative from 1977-90 to the UN and PFLP fangirl]

Expressing frustration with a freeze in Mideast peace efforts, Trump this month blamed the Palestinians for the deadlock and threatened to cut U.S. funding. Washington subsequently suspended a $65 million payment to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that provides education, health care and other social services to over 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants scattered across the Middle East.

On Thursday, Trump said in Davos, Switzerland, that the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive U.S. aid money.

The United States is the largest single donor to UNRWA, and the agency has launched a global fund-raising appeal in hopes of closing the gap. In all, it provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Palestinians.
Israel's Remarkable Diplomatic Achievements in 2017
During 2017, Israel secured a series of unprecedented diplomatic achievements, reflecting a growing global and regional recognition of a shared threat from totalitarian Islamism, as well as an appreciation of Israel's capacity to contribute in a variety of fields.

President Trump's declaration on Dec. 6, 2017, that the American administration recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is planning to move the American embassy there constitutes a significant landmark in the struggle, which has been ongoing since 1949, over the formulation of the U.S. position on Jerusalem. For the first time since Israel's founding, the president has recognized that Israel is the sovereign in Jerusalem.

The willingness to present reality as it is, after two generations of succumbing to Arab and Islamic pressures and threats, constitutes a first-rate Israeli diplomatic achievement. The American move reflects the president's decision to abandon the patterns of appeasing Palestinians and deliberately creating a position gap with Israel.

In May 2017, an American president chose Israel as one of the destinations for his first trip abroad. In his meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, President Trump publicly demanded that the PA should end the extensive financing of families of Palestinian prisoners and "martyrs" (terrorists).

In June, Prime Minister Netanyahu was the sole non-African speaker at the summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Liberia. Later that month was the tripartite Israel-Greece-Cyprus summit in Thessaloniki to discuss the production of energy in the eastern Mediterranean.

In July, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi came for a three-day visit to Israel (and to Israel alone). Israel's relationship with India is rooted in both countries' self-image as democracies opposed by ruthless Islamist enemies.

In September, Netanyahu met Egyptian President el-Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, their first public meeting since Sisi came to power in 2013. The mere fact that a public meeting took place - let alone in a relaxed mood and garnering positive coverage - illustrated the vast transformation in Israel's standing in the region.
Geneva UN Group Recommends 240 Things Israel Must Repair
The Geneva-based, 47-member United Nations’ Human Rights Council working group has just sent Israel a list of 240 human rights issues it must correct, AP reported Thursday.

The list was compiled from the working group as well as the recommendations of several member states, including the UK, which advised “immediate action to cease the policy of demolitions of Palestinian properties and buildings,” and reversing “policy on settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

The German delegation recommended Israel end the “practices of collective punishment such as the demolition of homes, revocation of residency permits in East Jerusalem, and the closure of entire areas.”

Even the “State of Palestine” had ten recommendations for Israel, to which Israel responded by suggesting to entity by that name does not “satisfy the criteria for statehood under international law.”

According to AP, the US did not add its recommendations.

Israel’s ambassador to the UNHRC Aviva Raz Shechter on Wednesday condemned the “unparalleled number of one-sided biased and political resolutions adopted regularly by the automatic majority […which testifies] not only to the unfair treatment of the State of Israel, but also to the deficiencies of the Council itself and its agenda.”
Rock-throwers given prison terms for Israeli man's death
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced three Israeli Arabs to lengthy prison sentences for killing Alexander Levlovitch back in 2015 by throwing rocks at his car. The attack was considered the first of 2015's 'knifing intifada' terror wave.

Abed Dweiyat guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to him 15 years in prison. Muhammad Abu Kaf and Elul Atrash were found guilty of aiding and abetting and received eight years in prison.

The suspects had been convicted back in September after lengthy deliberations. The three defendants had argued that the suspects could not be tried for manslaughter as they had not intended for Levlovitch to drive into a ditch.

However, Judge Rafi Carmel ruled that the defendants were fully aware of the potential consequences rock-throwing might bring. "They knew that it could lead to such results," wrote Carmel.

The three had killed Levlovich, 64, by hurling rocks at his car, as he passed through Pisgat Zeev on the way back from his festive Rosh Hashana meal. After being hit by the stones, the car swerved and hit a power pole before landing in a ditch.
Report: Turkey extradited bombing suspect despite Israeli plea
Turkey extradited the main suspect in a bombing in Lebanon targeting a senior Hamas militant despite an explicit request from the Mossad not to, Lebanon's Addiyar newspaper reported.

According to the report, Turkey ignored Israel's request and handed over Mahmoud Battiya, seen by Lebanon's security services as the main suspect in behind last week’s attempt on the life of senior Hamas official Mohammad Abu Hamza Hamdan. Battiya was allegedly recruited by the Mossad in Holland and has since made several trips to Lebanon for Israel's intelligence agency.

Hamdan was moderately injured in a car explosion in the southern Lebanon city of Sidon and was evacuated to the hospital.

Hamas and Hezbollah have blamed Israel for the attack, and Lebanese media has been rife with details regarding the bombing. According to one report, sources in the area saw an Israeli plane circling the sky during the explosion, which occurred at the same location in which Islamic Jihad members, the al-Majdoub brothers, were killed in 2006 in an operation allegedly carried out by Israel.
Warning – abductions planned
There is no way to gloss over this reality: According to an assessment from a senior security official, some 420 of the 1,027 terrorists imprisoned in Israel released as part of exchange deal for captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit in November 2011 have found their way back into the circle of terrorism and violence. Some 210 were re-arrested, and 100 were put back behind bars. Terrorists freed in the Schalit deal have directly or indirectly been involved in the murder of seven Israelis, including the three teens abducted in Gush Etzion in June 2014, as well as Rabbi Michael Mark and Baruch Mizrahi.

But the major, aggregate damage, with which Israel is finding it hard to contend, comes from the freed prisoners who were deported to or sent back to the Gaza Strip. Now it is becoming clear that it's easier to handle the ones who went back home to Judea and Samaria, within Israel's reach, than the terrorists who are across the border in Gaza.

As if that weren't enough, a group of the prisoners released in the Schalit deal have seized control of Hamas in Gaza. The group has established a mechanism whose purpose, at least for now, is to keep things quiet in Gaza to give them a chance to rebuild themselves, while hatching plans for terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, all while continuing to shake up the regime of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to reports out of the PA security establishment, this mechanism has a well-ordered hierarchy: The man in charge of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria is Maher Obeid, an associate of Saleh Arouri, who replaced him as commander of West Bank activity from abroad. Obeid and Arouri are believed to be in London. Obeid, who used to be charged with raising funds for Hamas and recently represented the group in its contact with Iran, denies these reports. It's possible he simply fears for his life.
As Gaza approaches ‘famine,’ Israel, rather than world, appears most concerned
Although Gazans tend to blame Israel for their situation, it is actually the Jewish state that seems to be trying to encourage improved economic conditions.
The Palestinian Authority recently decided to renew the electricity supply to Gaza by resuming payments for power generated by Israel (now providing power to homes for six hours, followed by 12 hours of darkness).

But the decision to renew the power supply was not due to a sudden stroke of generosity by the PA. According to sources, it was the result of an ultimatum by Israel: The Jewish state warned the PA that if it didn’t renew payments for the Gaza power bill, the Israeli government would cover the costs with PA tax money it collects. Ramallah understood the message and made a public show of renewing electricity payments.

At any rate, the two additional hours of power will not do much to change the economic situation in the Strip.

It was also Israel that recently went against standard policy by approving the entry of materials into Gaza that are considered dual-purpose — that is, they could be used by Hamas to build tunnels or manufacture weaponry.

Last week, wood supplies — in the past a source of tunnel beams — were allowed in to the Strip. Before that, approval was given to supplies of cement, iron, gas, fuels, and other materials.

Elliott Abrams: Should the United States Be Supporting the Lebanese Army?
In testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last November, I raised some doubts about U.S. military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). My main concern was that the LAF "is increasingly intertwined with Hezbollah."

Now there is another reason to doubt that American military aid to Lebanon can be justified. Hanin Ghaddar, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has been convicted by a Lebanese military court for the "crime" of defaming the army. After a closed trial held in absentia, she has been sentenced to six months imprisonment. The sad story is told by the Washington Institute here, and relates to comments she made at a conference in Washington in 2014.

There has been a very wide and powerful outpouring of support for her, and rightly so. But Americans should realize something about that kangaroo court: we are paying for it! As I noted in my testimony, "We’ve given the LAF over a billion dollars in military aid, including $123 million in FY2017, and Lebanon is the fifth largest recipient of foreign military financing (FMF). Our ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, said publicly on October 31 that total support for the LAF from State Department and Defense Department accounts totaled $160 million over the previous year."

Whatever we think we are supporting with that aid, surely we do not wish to help pay for a system of military courts that suppress freedom of speech and seek to punish someone for speaking in Washington. It's worth adding that what Ghaddar said that elicited these attacks on her was the simple truth: as the Washington Institute described it, "that the Lebanese military targets Sunni groups while showing preference to Shiite groups, such as Hezbollah."

When Congress next takes up military aid for Lebanon, this effort to suppress free speech--and to make telling the truth about Hezbollah's role in Lebanon illegal--should be item number one.
MEMRI: Saudi Commentators Advocate a Military Operation to Annihilate Hizbullah
A Saudi panel debated possible Saudi measures against Hizbullah on Rotana Khalijiyya TV on November 8. Saudi political commentator Mobarak Al-Atty said that he hoped for a "direct military operation that will annihilate Hizbullah," either by the Islamic Military Alliance or by the international coalition. Retired Saudi General Shami Al-Dhaheri, former head of the Saudi Command and Staff College, reiterated that there was no option other than a military operation against Hizbullah, which he called "Iran's model organization."

Hezbollah agents ‘run drugs on London streets’
An American counter-terrorism expert has accused supporters of Lebanese group Hezbollah of “engaging in criminal conduct” in the capital, ahead of a new parliamentary attempt to ban the organisation in its entirety.

Dr Matthew Levitt, director of the counter-terrorism programme at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that “London has a Hezbollah problem” and the current partial British ban was not working.

He said the result was that Hezbollah was carrying out illegal activities here — including drug running and fundraising for military campaigns — as well as undermining British interests abroad.

The warning, in a guest post published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, came ahead of a parliamentary debate today on whether the existing curbs on Hezbollah should be tightened.

At the moment, British law bans Hezbollah’s terrorist and military wings, but permits its political wing, despite the US banning the organisation in its entirety and Hezbollah’s promotion of armed resistance against Israel.

The partial ban means that Hezbollah flags are flown on London’s streets during the annual Al Quds march.

Dr Levitt states in his article: “London has a Hezbollah problem. Hezbollah continues to engage in terrorist and criminal activities — within the UK and the EU more broadly — despite the partial ban
British Government defends against push to fully proscribe genocidal Hizballah terrorist group in win for groups planning to bring London to a standstill again with pro-Hizballah parade this summer
A backbench motion was debated in the House of Commons yesterday urging the British Government to proscribe the entirety of Hizballah as a terrorist organisation, and not just Hizballah’s fictitious “military wing”. The motion was organised and moved by Joan Ryan, the Labour MP for Enfield North and Chair of the Party’s Friends of Israel group. Several MPs questioned the government’s ongoing distinction between Hizballah’s military and political wings.

The full motion stated: “That this House believes that Hizballah is a terrorist organisation driven by an antisemitic ideology that seeks the destruction of Israel; notes that Hizballah declares itself to be one organisation without distinguishable political or military wings; is concerned that the military wing of that organisation is proscribed, but its political wing is not; and calls on the Government to include Hizballah in its entirety on the list of proscribed organisations.”

In March last year, Campaign Against Antisemitism submitted a report to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in which we called on the the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to drop its opposition to the total proscription of Hizballah under the Terrorism Act, which is enabling Hizballah supporters in the UK to freely fly the Hizballah flag at demonstrations such as the “Al Quds Day” march through central London, and even to fundraise for Hizballah. Whilst the authorities should prevent this, they use the fact that Hizballah is only partially proscribed as a loophole to avoid taking action.

In December last year, we initiated a private prosecution against Nazim Ali, the leader of the “Al Quds Day” march, after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) declined to prosecute him. We allege that Mr Ali bellowed through his megaphone that: “It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high-rise blocks.”

Banning all of Hizballah should be non-partisan and it was pleasing to hear sympathetic and passionate speeches from MPs from across the political divide representing Labour, the Conservatives, Democratic Unionist Party and Scottish National Party.
Hezbollah’s Man in London?
Jeremy Corbyn accepted £20,000 from the Iranian propaganda outfit Press TV. He has referred to Hezbollah as his “friends” he was never going to be in favour of proscribing Hezbollah.

The moment the al Jazeera documentary directed at employees of the Israeli embassy and parts of the Jewish community The Lobby came out he called for a parliamentary inquiry claiming Israel posed a “national security issue”. In Jeremy Corbyn’s world an organisation that bombs and murders indiscriminately needs to be mollycoddled whereas Israel poses a national security issue.

In the USA there is an investigation into President Trump’s connections with Russia, when will there be anything like the same amount of controversy surrounding Jeremy Corbyn and the many connections he has with people, organisations and countries who hate the United Kingdom and every value it holds dear?
Comment: We must not betray Holocaust survivors by allowing supporters of those who seek a new Holocaust to lay wreathes on Holocaust Memorial Day
Across Britain, at respectful ceremonies, we stand silently to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Some are fortunate enough to hear the testimony of the courageous Holocaust survivors who brave their pain to recount their experiences during the Holocaust, day after day at schools around the country so that our children may grow up understanding the barbaric terrors that bigotry can unleash.

The message from Holocaust survivors has always been simple. Evil always lurks just below the surface. It thrives on indifference. We must never forget. We must never again permit evil to come to power. It is a message that drove the decades-long anti-racist campaigns that established the tolerance and equality that underpins Western society.

Yet at Holocaust remembrance ceremonies, we will permit some to go through the motions of commemorating the Holocaust, whilst openly and fiercely supporting those whose goal is to perpetrate a new one.

Take for example Jeremy Corbyn, who, as an avowed “anti-racist” and Leader of the Opposition, has a prominent place at Holocaust remembrance ceremonies. Last year, as in every year, he says the words, this year managing to do so without mentioning Jews or antisemitism: “We should never forget the Holocaust: The millions who died, the millions displaced and cruel hurt their descendants have suffered.”

But whilst Mr Corbyn goes through the motions, I cannot believe that he has learned the lessons that Holocaust survivors have so desperately and resolutely tried to instil. For this same Mr Corbyn spent decades in political obscurity hosting and consorting with antisemites and terrorists. He was not merely in the wrong place at the wrong time, he sought them out, hosting blood-libeller Raed Salah for tea in Parliament after he slipped into the country despite an exclusion order, and writing to the Church of England to defend the notorious Reverend Stephen Sizer, who had claimed that an Israeli conspiracy was behind 9/11.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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