Wednesday, October 24, 2018

From Ian:

Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Peace with Jordan – stop panicking
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases insofar as the relevant clauses in the 1994 peace treaty with Israel are concerned, and the only reason the king announced it himself was to give the declaration the weight of a final decision not open to negotiation. Jordan’s foreign minister added, in his own declaration, that if there are to be negotiations, they will be limited to deciding on the way those areas are to be returned to Jordanian jurisdiction.

Since the publication of the King’s declaration, utter hysteria has overcome the Israeli media and the voices of both broadcasters and those they interview are laced with panic. “Jordan has cancelled the peace treaty!!” “Why is the king doing this to us?” “What will happen to the longest peaceful border Israel has? “ Politicians, on the other hand, are attempting to calm us down on the lines of: “The peace treaty with Jordan is a strategic asset of the first order for Israel,” “ there is no threat to future relations with Jordan,” “Jordan depends on us for its security,” and other similarly irresponsible remarks, the gist of which is that Israel would do anything to preserve the peace agreement with Jordan.

Those media personalities and their interviewees do not realize that when they talk about the importance of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, they are granting the Hashemite kingdom the ability to pressure Israel on more crucial issues, such as a Palestinian Arab state in Judea and Samaria, continuing Jordan’s special status in Jerusalem overriding Israel’s sovereignty in the Holy City and including Jordan as a partner to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. In its endless search for scoops and hysterical headlines, the media have turned into talking heads whose unnecessary pronouncements ignore the Middle Eastern propensity for raising the price of anything Israel considers important.

The King of Jordan announced the cancellation of the leasing due to internal pressures. Numerous Jordanians demanded that the leasing of Jordanian land to Israel must end and the king acceded to those demands. In addition, the king has several “bones to pick” with Israel and the US, especially regarding Jerusalem, America’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital and its relocation of the embassy. Trump took these steps despite King Abdullah II’s requests to leave the Jerusalem issue to negotiations between the PA and Israel, expecting the city to be divided between Israel and a future Palestinian state. The king was insulted when his request was ignored and looked for a way to punish Israel.
Hashemite Chutzpah
Traditionally, when you start a war and lose, there's a price to pay--especially if the land you launched from wasn’t yours in the first place. Whatever will or won't become, in the future, of the land in question, it must be noted that this is disputed territory, not "purely Arab" land. In Arab eyes, however, they claim the whole region as “purely Arab patrimony.”

Jews lived and owned property in those "occupied territories" until their slaughter by Arabs in the 1920s and 1930s. Judea (as in JEW) and Samaria, only since the 20th century known as the "West Bank" (via British imperialism and Transjordan's later annexation), were non-apportioned parts of the original 1920 Mandate with thousands of years of documented Jewish history; and leading authorities such as Eugene Rostow, William O'Brien, and others have stressed that these areas were open to settlement by Jew, Arab, and other residents of the Mandate alike.

The Minutes of the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission documented scores of thousands entering into Palestine from Syria alone in just several months’ time. Hamas' "patron saint," Sheikh Izzedine al-Qassam (for whom the rockets and terror brigade are named), was from Latakia.

It's estimated that many more Arabs entered the Mandate, to take advantage of the economic development going on because of the Jews, under cover of darkness and were never recorded...more Arab settlers setting up more Arab settlements in Palestine. Why are these "legal" and those of the Jews not? Scores of thousands of Jews in Syria soon became refugees fleeing that country. Greater New York City alone now has tens of thousands of descendants, with some of the most beautiful synagogues I’ve ever seen.

Peace between Israel and its immediate Arab neighbor to the east is obviously a worthy goal. But the world must stop accepting the Hashemites’ assertion that Jordan is not part of the balance sheet when the of rights of both Arabs and Jews in the region are being discussed.
David Singer: Jordan and Israel – Trump’s only viable two-state solution
Four major developments in the past week have heightened expectations that President Trump will have no option but to call on Jordan and Israel to negotiate the allocation of sovereignty between their two respective States in the West Bank and Gaza – 5% of the territory comprised in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine (Mandate) .

Jordan and Israel are the two successor States to the Mandate currently exercising sovereignty in the other 95% of the Mandate territory – Jordan 78%, Israel 17%.

Jordan-Israel negotiations – if successfully concluded – would complete the two-state solution first contemplated under article 25 of the Mandate. Arab and Jewish claims to the Mandate territory would be finally resolved.

These four developments were:
1. The G77 and China – comprising 135 of the 193 United Nations member states – appointed the non-existing “State of Palestine” as Chairman of the G77 for 2019 and procured the passage of a United Nations General Assembly Resolution giving this phantom “State of Palestine” the right to:
(a) Make statements on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, including among representatives of major groups;
(b) Submit proposals and amendments and introduce them on behalf of the Group of 77 and China;
(c) Co-sponsor proposals and amendments;
(d) Make explanations of vote on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of 77 and China;
(e) Reply regarding positions of the Group of 77 and China;
(f) Raise procedural motions, including points of order and requests to put proposals to the vote, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

US Ambassador to the UN – Nikki Haley – re-iterated America’s long-standing position:
“The United States does not recognize a Palestinian state, notes that no such state has been admitted as a UN Member State, and does not believe that the Palestinians are eligible to be admitted as a UN Member State.”

The PLO has chosen the United Nations fantasyland to push its agenda in preference to negotiating with Israel under Trump’s proposed plan – simultaneously rejecting the Montevideo Convention requirements necessary for statehood in international law.

11 other UN member states embraced this nonsensical resolution, whilst the remaining 47 voted: Against (3), Abstained (15), or Did Not Vote (29).

2. US Secretary of State – Mike Pompeo – announced that the U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem would be merged into a single diplomatic mission.
This was Trump’s response to the UN’s embrace of the “State of Palestine”.

3. President Trump sent World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder as his personal envoy to Jordan.
Lauder's visit reportedly occurred without the knowledge of Israel or Trump’s Special Middle East Negotiators – Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.

Jordan received $690 million in US aid in 2018 – to be boosted by a 27% increase for each of the next five years. Lauder would have reminded Jordan’s King Abdullah that Trump’s policy could see this aid reduced if Jordan refuses to negotiate with Israel.

4. King Abdullah gave Israel twelve months’ notice of Jordan’s intention to not renew twenty-five year leases of two areas denoted as “Special Regimes” in the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty.
Israel is entitled to request that consultations be entered into – as Israel undoubtedly will – since Israeli private land ownership rights and property interests are affected in one area and Israeli private land use rights in the other.

These Special Regimes would become important bargaining chips in Jordan – Israel negotiations on the West Bank and Gaza over the next 12 months.

Any Trump peace proposal not requiring direct Jordan –Israel negotiations will be dead in the water from the get-go.

Experts Downplay Significance of Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty Changes
Jordanian King Abdullah II announced his country would reassert control over two agricultural enclaves leased from Jordan by Israel for 25 years under the 1994 peace agreement.

Joshua Krasna, an expert at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies [JISS], said: "Regarding the Naharaim site, as former [Jordanian] Prime Minister Abdul Salam Majali noted, Israeli citizens have 'ownership rights' that date back to 1926, when Russian Jewish engineer Pinhas Rutenberg...obtained a concession for production and distribution of electric power." "That there are Israeli property rights in the northern disputed area is not widely known in Jordan. So the discussion of this area may well be protracted, and require compensation and even legal processes."

Eran Lerman, vice president of JISS, said: "The arrangement was for 25 years, and it will expire next year. It would have been surprising if the king did not claim what is his [and perhaps leave open the option of higher remuneration for these plots]."

Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, said: "This is not more than a PR exercise [by King Abdullah] to his own people, as he wishes to please some trade unions and other unsatisfied sectors in Jordan. We have a year to work this out and Israel has the tools to make this all work out."

Abdullah Swalha, founder and director of the Center for Israel Studies in Jordan, said: "During the last two years, there has been an ongoing campaign in Jordan asking the government to cancel this agreement. Just last week, over 80 members of Jordan's parliament signed a petition asking the king not to renew the agreement. So the king is responding to public opinion." At the end of the day, he said, Jordan will not destroy its peace agreement with Israel over two small tracts of land.
Jordan deserves a strong response
Jordan's King Abdullah announced on Sunday that he initiated and passed a decision not to continue leasing land in the Arava and at Naharayim to Israel – two clauses of the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries. The cancellation was presented by the king himself, and it's clear the purpose of the move was to dampen the peace accord with Israel.

In response to the decision, Shimon Sheves, director general of the Prime Minister's Office under then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, said the lease agreement was signed for 25 years in the hope that it would be upgraded upon its expiration, not downgraded. The king's decision, which was unveiled on the 23rd anniversary of Rabin's assassination, proves that agreements between states, and particularly concessions on sovereignty, must not be based on hopes that appear realistic at the time of the signing but are susceptible to erosion over time.

In this case, the vagaries of time included, among other things, then-King Hussein appointing his son Abdullah as the new crown prince and heir apparent, replacing his brother, Hassan, who supported the accord. The Arab Spring and the emergence of the Islamic State group in the arena can also be counted. Regarding ISIS, the group's primary enemy is the Hashemite king, who is considered in the religious hierarchy the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad and therefore precedes the leader of ISIS – who anointed himself caliph, the heir to the prophet.

But with all due respect and understanding to the king's problems, he assumes that cooperation between Israel and his regime is assured regardless and that he can therefore inflict a modicum of damage to its citizens (in this case the farmers of the Arava region), without a response from Israel.
How Israel Can Avoid a Crisis in Gaza
As Jerusalem, via Egyptian mediators, tries to negotiate an end to the ongoing crisis in Gaza, Israeli officials have floated various options for improving the humanitarian and economic circumstances in the territory. Eran Lerman argues that such arrangements, if properly carried out, shouldn’t be seen as concessions to Hamas. However, he warns of three pitfalls Israel must avoid:

The first [pitfall involves] the need to bring back to Israel the bodies of the two soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, [both captured in 2014], and the two [Israeli] civilians who crossed the border (of their own volition) and are being held by Hamas. It is important to uproot from Hamas’s consciousness the expectation that Israel will again be extorted as it was [following the 2006 kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, who was returned in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011]. It is also important that this question, with all of its emotional power, not be the sole consideration [when Israel makes decisions] of strategic significance.

The second threat is likely to come from rebellious groups in Gaza, especially Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which has a military branch in Gaza and is liable to resort to large-scale violent provocations should this be the wish of its patrons in Tehran. The Egyptians will have to make it unmistakably clear to Hamas that a cease-fire agreement requires active enforcement of the arrangement against PIJ and other rebellious groups.

The third difficulty, and the main one at this stage, results from the cruel use the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas is making of his legal authority . . . to thwart economic relief for the population of the Gaza Strip so long as the PA and Abbas’s Fatah party have not regained control of the territory. The same Dr. Jekyll/President Abbas who is showing cooperation, moderation, and largeness of spirit to his guests from the Israeli left is behaving like Mr. Hyde/Fatah functionary Abbas by holding the entire population of the Gaza Strip hostage until he obtains his objectives. . . . Under these circumstances, it is possible that there will be no alternative to finding mechanisms to bypass Abbas in order to carry out the relief measures, even if the “reconciliation talks” [between Fatah and Hamas] in Cairo remain deadlocked (as expected).
Israelis find government's Gaza policy not forceful enough, poll finds
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s policies regarding Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip are too soft, 56.2% of Jewish Israelis believe, according to the monthly Peace Index survey of the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University that was released on Tuesday.

The poll found that 38.1% disagree with Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s charge that Liberman’s policies are too soft while 5.7% did not know or declined to comment. Among Israeli Arabs, the numbers were completely different, with only 18.8% deeming Liberman’s policies too soft, 70.3% disagreeing and 10.9% not knowing or not answering.

The survey revealed that the Israeli public would like to see long-term calm on the border with Gaza, with 64% and 80% of Jewish and Arab Israelis respectively supporting signing a long-term cease-fire agreement under international supervision with the Hamas leadership.

Nearly 60% of Jewish Israelis “think” or “are sure” that Israel should not provide relief measures to improve the lives of the Gaza residents. The Arab public is unanimously in favor of Israel implementing such measures.

Jewish and Arab Israelis both agreed when it came to their assessment of their local governments. Ahead of next Tuesday’s municipal elections, only some 17% of both Jewish and Arab Israelis believe that in the municipality in which they reside, there is no corruption at all.
Netanyahu on visit to Gaza border: Hamas ‘fully understands’ Israel’s messages
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Palestinian terror group Hamas is a greater threat than in the past, but added that it “fully understands” the messages Israel sends to it.

“We are preparing for every scenario,” Netanyahu told local activists at a closed ceremony at the Sdot Negev regional council near the Gaza border.

“We are dealing with a theological junta that has taken control of two million people,” Netanyahu said, referring to Hamas, the terror group which controls the Strip and openly seeks Israel’s destruction.

“They numbered 3,000 people before the wretched, mistaken and tragic disengagement, while now they are 65,000 armed people,” he said, taking a jab at the 2005 evacuation by former premier Ariel Sharon of all Israeli settlements in Gaza, which also saw the Jewish state end its military presence in the Strip.

Hawkish Israelis have long argued that the Disengagement Plan harmed the country’s security by enabling Hamas to seize control of Gaza and fire thousands of rockets at Israeli communities.

“They are committed to our destruction and therefore are not partners for conversation in the diplomatic sense, but they fully understand our other messages and we won’t let them continue (with their violence),” the prime minister warned.

“We also won’t let them dream about carrying out their plan. The first thing I’m committed to is security,” he said, adding that he will allow “no rockets, no mortars and no [incendiary] balloons.”
Outgoing Gaza Division chief: Hamas in control of Gaza border violence
The outgoing head of the Israeli army’s Gaza Division on Wednesday accused the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, of stealing the majority of the goods entering the coastal enclave for its own military purposes, rather than for the benefit of the local population.

“Most of the resources entering the Gaza Strip go toward digging tunnels and manufacturing rockets. Hamas digs into the earth and in doing so curses the land from which orchards could bloom,” said Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs.

He made his remarks during a ceremony marking the end of his tenure as the head of the Gaza Division and Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano’s assumption of the role.

Fuchs, who served in the position since 2016, said Hamas also “dictates the level of violence along the border,” referring to the regular clashes and riots that take place along the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave.

Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the head of the Southern Command, which contains the Gaza Division, said Hamas is deterred from attacking Israel properly and is therefore searching for any way to harm the Jewish state.

“This period is a complicated one. Our advancements, our developments and our advantages over our enemy are clear and palpable. The enemy is deterred and the people are desperate, looking in every way under the ground and above it to harm our nation,” Halevi said.
Gazan teen said killed in border clashes with Israeli troops
Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on the Gaza border Tuesday, with the Hamas-run health ministry in the Palestinian enclave reporting a 17-year-old had died of injuries sustained during the violence.

Muntaser al-Baz, 17, was shot by Israeli soldiers during a protest east of the Bureij refugee camp and died at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, according to the ministry.

Five others were wounded during the unrest, the ministry said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP that troops at the border fence opened fire during a violent protest by about 200 Palestinians.

“They burned tires and threw explosive devices at soldiers,” she said. “They also threw a petrol bomb.”

She said none of the soldiers were injured.

“Troops responded with riot dispersal means and gunfire according to the rules of engagement,” she added.
Israel rescinds ban on Qatari fuel for Gaza amid continued border violence
Israel has rescinded its ban the entry of Qatari funded fuel into Gaza, even though border riots continued on Tuesday.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s office late Tuesday night announced the end of the ban.

The Qatari funded fuel for the Gaza power plant to help ease the electricity crisis is expected to enter Gaza through its commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom. The 2 million Palestinians in Gaza live on only four or five hours of electricity a day.

Liberman had initially said that the Qatari fuel would be restored only if the violence was halted.

He had initially closed the pedestrian crossing at Erez and the commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom, including for gas and fuel last week. But Sunday he lifted all those restrictions.
Report: Israel Thinks France’s Macron Will Likely Present Peace Plan of His Own if Trump Doesn’t
An Israeli Foreign Ministry official told a Knesset committee earlier this week that if US President Donald Trump did not present an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan within a few weeks after the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm elections, French President Emmanuel Macron would likely unveil a diplomatic initiative of his own, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday.

Alon Ushpiz, the Foreign Ministry’s director of diplomacy, also revealed that Israel was not aware of the details of Trump’s long-awaited proposal.

According to the report, which cited two Knesset members who attended Monday’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Ushpiz cautioned that a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives would significantly change the atmosphere in Washington vis-à-vis Israel.

“Things will not be the same as before,” he was quoted as saying. “There will be consequences for Israel. What has happened until now since Trump’s entry into the White House will not continue, and we need to prepare for this.”

Ushpiz further warned that Israel was losing support in the US Jewish community, and he asked Knesset members to meet with Jews during trips to America, rather than just evangelical Christians.
Netanyahu reaffirms commitment to demilitarized Palestinian state
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his commitment to the idea of Palestinian self-government in the West Bank, provided that Israel preserve total security control of all territory west of the Jordan river.

Speaking at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that he believed in a solution where the “Palestinians have all the powers to govern themselves and none of the powers to threaten us.”

He related discussions he had with former US Vice President Joe Biden where he said that he was not interested in “labels” such as "two-state solution," but in the substantive issue of Israeli security and insisted that Israel maintain security control in “the tiny area west of the Jordan.”

Netanyahu asserted that the only reason the West Bank had not become a Hamas-controlled territory from which missiles are launched at Israeli cities, like the Gaza Strip, was because of ongoing Israeli military presence in the territory.

He said that if Israel were to lose security control in the territory, Hamas would overthrow the Palestinian Authority “in a minute."

The prime minister also said that Israel had thwarted an assassination attempt against PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Will China Abandon the Palestinians?
China's Vice President Wang Qishan arrived in Israel on Monday for a four-day visit to head the fourth China-Israel Innovation Committee. Chinese investments in Israel grew from $50 million in the early 1990s to $16.5 billion in 2016. China's total trade with Arab countries is estimated at $171 billion. However, the nature of the exchange is different. China is a main client for Israel's IT industry, while its trade with Arab countries is mostly focused on selling cheaper consumer goods and military hardware.

For years, China has called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. However, Beijing's position seems of little consequence to its relationship with Israel, as joint technological ventures, trade and investments continue to grow unhindered.

China finds itself under no particular obligation to side with a well-defined Arab position on Palestine, simply because the latter doesn't exist. The political division of Arab countries, the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere have pushed Palestine down from being a top Arab priority. This painful reality has weakened Palestine's position in China, which, at least for now, values its relationship with Israel at a much higher level.
Palestinians call on China to support Abbas's peace plan
The Palestinian Authority called on China – in its capacity as a permanent member of the UN Security Council – to play an active role in the Middle East peace process, during a meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday between visiting Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and senior PLO and Fatah officials.

During the meeting, Hamdallah also called on China to support PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s peace initiative, which calls for holding an international conference on peace in the Middle East with wide international participation.

This would include both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, as well as the active regional and international parties.

Abbas proposed his peace plan during a speech he delivered at the UN Security Council in February.

Hamdallah also urged China to exert pressure on Israel to “halt its violations and honor international laws and resolutions.”

He told the Chinese vice president that Israeli measures, including settlement construction, were aimed at “destroying the peace process and the two-state solution.”
China inks free trade agreement with Palestinian Authority
China has signed a free trade agreement memorandum of understanding with the Palestinian Authority, Beijing's Commerce Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan arrived in Israel on Monday for a three-day trip that illustrates the warming ties between the two countries. While in Jerusalem, he met with Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and ‎several other high-ranking Israeli officials. ‎

Visiting the West Bank, Wang met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah, laid a wreath on the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and toured Bethlehem's Nativity Church.

China's Commerce Ministry said the memorandum was signed by the country's Deputy Commerce Minister Qian Keming and Palestinian National Economy Minister Abeer Odeh.

Both sides agreed to step up negotiations and try and reach an early agreement, Beijing said.
Abbas: PLO to review agreements with Israel, could abrogate many of them
A top Palestine Liberation Organization body will be reviewing agreements that the Palestinians had concluded with Israel, and could decide to abrogate many of them, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a television interview.

Abbas made the comments days before the Palestinian Central Council, a PLO decision-making body, is expected to convene in Ramallah on October 28 and 29.

“We are going to put all the agreements between us and the Israelis on the table and we will ask them to stop violating each agreement,” Abbas told Palestine TV, the official PA television station, in an interview broadcast late Tuesday evening. “I am not saying this is an easy issue; it is a dangerous issue. Perhaps we will arrive at the point of abrogating a lot of what is between us and the Israelis.”

The PLO and Israel have signed several agreements, including the Oslo Accords, which established the PA and outlined security, economic and other ties between it and the Jewish state.

In the past several years, Abbas has made similar comments about agreements between the Palestinians and Israel, but he has not moved to do away with them.
JCPA: Palestinian Authority Violates Oslo Accords in East Jerusalem
During October 2018, the sale of the Joudeh family house in the Saadiya neighborhood in Jerusalem’s Old City to Jews caused a storm among the residents of the territories. The details of the sale were discovered by members of the family after they sold their three-story house to a Palestinian businessman, Khaled al-Atari. The family was surprised to find out that a short time after the sale, in exchange for $17 million, al-Atari transferred the ownership of the property in the land registry to a group of Jews who immediately moved into the house.

It then emerged that the Palestinian Authority had previously prevented the house from being sold to one of the supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, named Fadi al-Salamin, who resides in the United States. [Dahlan is loathed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.] Palestinian sources claim that Khaled al-Atari is a supporter of Abbas and Gen. Majid Faraj and that the transaction was made with their authorization. Al-Atari was summoned to a violent interrogation by Fatah operatives in east Jerusalem, and since then he has gone into hiding in fear of his life.

This episode struck a serious blow to the status of the Palestinian Authority. Many residents of the territories perceive it to be corrupt and think that its leaders make deals with Israel through front companies in order to purchase real estate in the Old City, near the Temple Mount, as part of Israel’s attempt to gain control of the al-Aqsa Mosque.

In the wake of this incident, the Palestinian administration, led by Rami Hamdallah, decided on October 10, 2018, to establish an investigation committee to examine the sale of the Joudeh family house.

On October 13, 2018, Sheikh Akhram a-Sabri, preacher of the al-Aqsa Mosque, issued a fatwa (ruling in Islamic law) stating that anyone who sells property in the Old City of Jerusalem to Jews no longer belongs to the Islamic religion.

“We will not accept his repentance, and he will not be buried in a Muslim cemetery,” Sabri declared.
Bolivia promoting another anti-Israel event at UN Security Council
The Bolivian mission to the United Nations, which ‎holds the Security Council presidency this ‎month‎, ‎announced Tuesday that it plans to host another anti-‎Israel event at the forum.‎

Bolivian Ambassador to the U.N. Sacha Sergio ‎Llorenti Soliz has invited Randa Siniora, director ‎of the Ramallah-based Women's Center for Legal Aid ‎and Counselling and former director of Al-Haq – both ‎groups that promote anti-Israel lawfare and support ‎the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement – to ‎address the Security Council.‎

Al-Haq's delegitimization campaign against Israel ‎is especially virulent, and past ‎officials in the organization have been convicted of ‎affiliation with the Popular Front for the ‎Liberation of Palestine, designated by Israel as a ‎terrorist group.‎

Soliz was also the driving force behind inviting ‎Hagai El-Ad, director of the human rights group B'Tselem to ‎address the Security Council.‎

El-Ad used his speech last week to decry the Israeli ‎government's "supremacy and oppression" of the ‎Palestinians and "the indignity, the outrage, the ‎pain of the people denied human rights for more than ‎‎50 years."‎

Bolivia has a long track record of human rights violations. The South American country is believed to be the epicenter ‎massive human trafficking rings, including ‎trafficking in women and children for forced labor ‎and prostitution. ‎
Suspected bombs sent to homes of Obamas, Clintons, CNN studio
The US Secret Service has intercepted a bomb that was addressed to Hillary Clinton and also discovered a possible explosive that was sent to former President Barack Obama.

Also Wednesday, a police bomb squad was sent to CNN’s offices in New York City and the newsroom was evacuated because of a suspicious package.

A US official told The Associated Press that investigators believe the explosive that was discovered near the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, New York, is linked to one found Monday at the compound of liberal billionaire George Soros.

The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said one of the packages had the return address of Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz, an ironic reference to the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The package addressed to Obama was intercepted Wednesday by Secret Service agents in Washington.
What the Elections in Bavaria mean for Germany, Merkel, the Jews and Israel
The returns of the Bavarian state elections raise questions how these results could affect the current policies of Germany, including towards Israel. The Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), sustained hefty losses to third parties – evidence of an emerging partisan split, dividing German policy. On the right is the AfD (Alternative for Deutschland), which garnered 10.7% of the recent vote after not acquiring any representation in the Bundestag only five years prior, in the 2013 federal elections. On the left, the Bavarian Green party more than doubled its tally from 8.6% to 17.5% since 2013.

A significant voting point for Germans in this election was the question of immigration from the Middle East into Europe, an issue that dually and directly impacts the opinion of Israel in the eyes of Germans.

During her tenure as chancellor, Merkel has, for the most part, been a friend to Israel. Merkel’s reasoning for support of Israel has been twofold: First, Merkel recognizes the history between the Jewish people and Germany. In a 2008 address to the Knesset – the first by a German chancellor in history – she proclaimed that Germany’s support for Israel was a raison d’être and that German chancellors bear a “special responsibility” to ensure Israel’s security is upheld.

Germany’s second connection to Israel is economic. Having invested billions of Euros in recent decades into Israel start-ups and companies, Germany is reaping the benefits of Israeli innovation in fields such as aerospace technologies and other scientific research. Her recent visit to Israel was noted as a visit intended to improve the economic ties between the two countries by way of investments. Merkel was earlier praised by Netanyahu as “a true friend of Israel.”
JPost Editorial: Hezbollah violation
News that Hezbollah has captured a bird of prey and is holding it as a suspected Israeli spy is periodically creating local headlines and raising smirks. But what happened this week might shed some light on the Hezbollah way of thinking – and it is no laughing matter.

On Monday, the IDF announced that it had uncovered an observation post used by the terrorist group about a kilometer from Israel’s northern border. It was the sixth such post discovered in the past couple of years.

The Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization had sinisterly tried to conceal the intelligence gathering post as a birdwatching station for a non-existent environmental NGO called “Green Without Borders.”

Like the Hamas terror tunnels spreading from Gaza toward and into Israeli territory, there is nothing innocent about the activity. Hezbollah, like Hamas, is funded and supported by Iran; both terrorist organizations have a history of kidnapping and murdering Israeli soldiers and citizens.

The hidden Hezbollah post was located in the village of al-Adisa, just across the border from Kibbutz Misgav Am. Nobody in the kibbutz needs a reminder of the cost of terrorism. In 1980, five Palestinian terrorists crossed the nearby border and penetrated the community and held hostage a group of toddlers sleeping in the then-typical kibbutz “children house.” A two-year-old and an adult kibbutz member were killed in the attack, along with an Israeli soldier who was participating in the rescue.

Hezbollah’s cynical use of a fictitious environmental group as a guise for intelligence gathering is yet another flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which set the terms to end the month-long Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. The resolution bans any military presence south of the Litani River except for the Lebanese Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Palestinian said killed by soldiers in northern West Bank clash
A Palestinian man was killed overnight in clashes with Israeli soldiers in a northern West Bank village, Palestinian media reported.

The riot broke out when troops entered the village of Tammun, close to Jenin, for a predawn raid.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, some 50 Palestinians threw rocks and set off fireworks at the soldiers that entered the village. In response, the troops fired live rounds, as well as tear gas, at the rioters.

The official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported that the man, 21-year-old Muhammed Bisharat was shot in the chest. He was taken to a hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

The report said approximately ten other Palestinians suffered from various injuries.

No Israeli soldiers were injured.
Police arrest terror suspect on Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway
Police on Wednesday announced that they had arrested a man on suspicion of planning to carry out a terror attack.

According to the Walla news site, police received a tip-off that a man was planning to carry out an attack in the area of the Central Bus Station in south Tel Aviv.

Security forces conducted wide-ranging searches in the city before locating the man, said to be in his 20s and from Jerusalem, at the Hemed intersection, on the main highway between the coastal city and Jerusalem.

Police sappers were called in to examine a bag discovered at the scene, but ruled out the presence of a bomb.
Jerusalem mayor makes rare visit to East Jerusalem refugee camp
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat visited the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem on Tuesday as part of his drive to push the United Nation’s Palestinian refugee organization out of the capital and replace its operations with municipal services.

Barkat met with city sanitation workers who entered the Palestinian neighborhood for the first time ever to carry out trash removal and other cleaning services.

Although the mayor’s office said in a statement that Barkat has been to Shuafat several times, local residents told the Haaretz newspaper that it was the first time they had seen him there.

Jerusalem’s city hall said Tuesday that 15 municipal sanitation workers had entered Shuafat in what has been branded part of outgoing Barkat’s plan to expel UNRWA from Jerusalem, and “end the refugee lie.”

The move was ordered by Barkat, who wants to prevent the UN agency for Palestinian refugees from operating in the city and providing services to the Palestinian residents of the camp, which was founded in 1965 and is home to some 20,000.

According to the city, workers found hundreds of tons of untended garbage and construction waste. They will start entering the camp daily to gradually take over what the city called UNRWA’s “inadequate services.”
Jerusalem provides first ever municipal waste removal services to Shuafat camp
Jerusalem’s city hall said Tuesday that 15 municipal sanitation workers entered the Shuafat Palestinian refugee camp for the first time ever to carry out trash removal and other cleaning services, in what has been branded part of outgoing Mayor Nir Barkat’s plan to expel UNRWA from Jerusalem and “end the refugee lie.”

The move was ordered by Barkat, who wants to outlaw the UN agency for Palestinian refugees from operating in the city and providing services to Palestinian residents in the camp which was founded in 1965 and is home to some 20,000 residents.

According to the city, workers found hundreds of tons of untended garbage and construction waste. They will start entering the camp daily to gradually take over what the city called UNRWA’s “inadequate services.”

The municipality will also start to provide “far superior” education, health, and other services to the area, to replace UNRWA, it said in a statement.

While in the Jerusalem city limits, municipal workers, police, and others have never entered the Shuafat camp, which is situated beyond the West Bank security barrier, leading to charges of official neglect. Barkat, who has been mayor since 2008, has blamed the shortfall in services on UNRWA, which has recently had its funding slashed by the US amid accusations that it serves as a political tool against Israel.

The move came a week before Jerusalem is set to choose a new mayor. Barkat, who visited the Shuafat camp Tuesday, is not running for re-election and it is not clear if his successor will continue the services.
Israel reassures churches it does not seek to seize their lands
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi on Tuesday assured major churches in Jerusalem that Israel is not seeking to expropriate their properties.

A government statement said Hanegbi met leaders of the Armenian, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in response to a letter they sent last week to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In it, the churchmen called on Netanyahu to block draft legislation they said was aimed at expropriating their property.

“The government of Israel has no intention to confiscate church lands or to cause any economic damage to the churches,” the English-language foreign ministry statement quoted Hanegbi as telling them at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The goal of the government is to protect the rights of churches, of investors and of tenants,” he said.

Swathes of Jerusalem are held by various churches, in many cases under long-term leases from the state.

In some cases the churches then sublet the properties on the commercial market.

Israel’s parliament is working on a law that would allow the state to intervene in the resale of residential property leases to commercial property developers.
Police forcibly remove Coptic priests blocking workers from Holy Sepulchre
Police forcibly removed a group of Coptic priests from the entrance to Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre after they attempted to block antiquities workers from carrying out safety repairs in the Christian holy site.

One man was arrested after scuffling with officers and refusing to follow police instructions, police said in a statement.

According to Israeli authorities, dozens of priests had been using their bodies to prevent workers from the Israel Antiques Authority from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City to carry out the work.

“Since they didn’t listen to the request and instructions from police, an order was given to clear them away during the course of which police required to arrest one of them after he refused to be removed, blatantly violated public order and even tried to attack the police.”

Officials were not immediately able to say what safety works were planned for the site.

The church is built where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. Custody of it is shared by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations under a sensitive status quo agreement. In the past, attempts to move even mundane objects in the shrine have led to scuffles among rival clergy.

Tensions between Israel and church officials have ramped up in recent months over a plan to tax church properties in Jerusalem.
Former Jordanian counterterrorism chief killed in Jordan
The former head of counterterrorism in Jordan was murdered on Tuesday in Madaba, a city near Amman. According to local reports, retired Maj.-Gen. Habis al-Hanini was shot by a gunman in front of his house in Madaba. Al-Hanini played a pivotal role in confronting terrorism and extremism in Jordan, which has been a key ally of the US in the war on al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Police formed a special investigative team from the Directorate of Public Security and General Intelligence Department (GID) to find the suspects. On Wednesday morning, rumors circulated that a suspect had been detained and local websites said he had planned “for a while to kill Major General Al-Hanini because he believed he was behind his arrest in Russia.” The Jordan Times claimed the suspect was “a man said to be [a follower of] Salafist takfiri ideology.” Takfiri ideology refers to Sunni jihadists, such as ISIS members.

Police spokesman Amer Sartawi initially downplayed reports of an arrest. “We are investigating the incident and following up on every lead. We will notify the public about the latest developments regarding this shooting incident.” The spokesman indicated that the killing might have been personal because the suspect had argued with the retired officer a week ago. However, according to Petra, Jordan’s News Agency, an arrest was made and the shooter said he planned to kill the major general because he had been arrested, confirming the Russia story.

Ali Younes at Al Jazeera wrote that Al-Hanini, 56, was shot three times in the chest and pronounced dead at Al-Nadeem Hospital in Madaba. In Jordan, locals have been sharing images of the former security chief online, but officials have sought to downplay rumors about the motive for the murder. A senior Jordanian intelligence officer spoke to Al Jazeera and said Al-Hanini’s death “was a tragic loss to Jordan and the counterterrorism community around the world.”

Younes also quoted a CIA analyst who described Al-Hanini as “extremely smart” and said he “really understood the underpinning of why individuals join extremist groups.”
Iran Nuclear Archives Show High Explosive Work at Parchin Test Site
Iranian documents and photos from an archive seized by Israel in Tehran confirm that Iran was testing a neutron initiator to start the chain reaction in a nuclear explosion.

It is essential for the IAEA to ask to visit Parchin, and now, to visit the nuclear archive and warehouse sites, since maintaining such documents, material, and equipment is not compatible with the spirit and obligations of Iran under the NPT, its safeguards agreement, including the Additional Protocol, and the JCPOA nuclear deal. There is no evidence in the IAEA reports that Section T of the Iran deal - which bans key aspects of nuclear weapons research and development and applies controls and monitoring - has ever been implemented in practice.

The new information raises profound questions about whether Iran is complying with the fundamental goal of the JCPOA, namely that "under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons." In the case of South Africa, giving up its nuclear weapons program involved program officials searching for and burning all nuclear weapons sensitive documents and destroying the sensitive components, equipment, and non-nuclear materials.
Treasury Department Sanctions Taliban Members, Their Iranian Sponsors
The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced steps taken in cooperation with the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) to "expose and disrupt Taliban actors and their Iranian sponsors that seek to undermine the security of the Afghan Government."

The Treasury Department announced sanctions against nine individuals who were identified as Taliban actors by the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the TFTC.

"The TFTC has again demonstrated its tremendous value to international security by disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities. We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote in a statement.

The TFTC was created as a partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia in 2017. In addition to the center's two co-chair nations, five other Persian Gulf nations are named as "participants": Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and The United Arab Emirates.

"Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism," the statement continued. "The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behavior. Iran’s support to the Taliban stands in stark violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and epitomizes the regime’s utter disregard for fundamental international norms."

The OFAC and TFTC designated Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi (also known as Jalal Vahedi), Esma’il Razavi, Abdullah Samad Faroqui, Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, Abdul Rahim Manan, Abdul Aziz (also known as Aziz Shah Zamani), Sadr Ibrahim, and Hafiz Majid as providing support to terrorism. They also designated Naim Barich the coordinator of the Taliban's relationship with Iran.

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