Wednesday, May 22, 2019

From Ian:

PMW op-ed: PA Prime Minister puts the last nail in the coffin of Palestinian democracy
In the 25 years since the PA was created, only two general elections have been held .The two elections took place ten years apart, the first one in 1996 and the other in 2006. While Fatah, the party of Arafat and Abbas, won the majority of seats in the PA Parliament [Legislative Council] in the first election, in the second election Hamas - designated internationally as a terrorist organization - won the majority of the seats in both the West Bank and Gaza. However, in the beginning of 2007, Abbas, unhappy with Hamas rule, appointed an alternative government. In June 2007, following a brief civil war, Hamas seized complete control of the Gaza Strip. Since then, for 12 years, the Fatah-controlled PA and Hamas have been trying to reach reconciliation.

In December 2018, Abbas decided to dissolve the PA parliament, which officially still had a Hamas majority, relying on a decision of the Palestinian Constitutional Court, created by Abbas himself. The court also added a call to hold general elections "within six months."

It would appear that Abbas accepted the part of the judicial decision that was convenient for him, and ignored that which was less convenient - the holding of elections.

Soon after the decision of the court, Abbas disbanded the technocrat "reconciliation" government and appointed Shtayyeh to be the new Prime Minister, thus strengthening Fatah's control of the PA.
With this latest announcement that the elections will be held "the moment national reconciliation is achieved," Abbas and Shtayyeh are really saying that they have no intention to hold general elections and will continue the dictatorship rule indefinitely.

The "European Joint Strategy in support of Palestine 2017 - 2020" states that one of the major foundation stones on which the strategy is based is the "EU's non-negotiable principles" such as "democratic principles" and the "holding of elections."

Given the absence of any semblance of PA democracy, the question begs, on what did the PA spend the tens of millions of dollars and euros of donor aid earmarked for creating and strengthening the PA democracy? Is the EU reconsidering its aid to the PA, or at least conditioning any further aid on seeing real steps to achieve the EU's "non-negotiable" "democratic principles"? Or is the EU going to abandon these "non-negotiable principles" to continue its support for the Abbas/Shtayyeh/Fatah dictatorship?
Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Why are the Palestinians so opposed to the 'Deal of the Century'?
Trump's "Deal of the Century" includes the involvement of other Arab states, and the Palestinians fear a situation where those states and Israel agree on something to which the Palestinians are opposed, leading to the strengthening of Israel's position in the Arab world. This could lead to rapport between Israel and these states, in an attempt to isolate the "recalcitrant" Palestinians and pressure them to agree to sign things against their interests and positions.

It has recently been made public that the Trump administration is planning a conference in Bahrain to deal with economic aspects of the "Deal of the Century". PLO spokesmen are up in arms because, in their opinion, dealing with the economic issues before solving all the other problems – Jerusalem, the refugees, borders, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, water, sovereignty –are a result of the American conception that money, work and economic development can solve everything. In their view, all the unaddressed problems must be solved to their complete satisfaction before dealing with economic issues. They call the other problems "axioms" which cannot be bypassed or solved by economic means.

It is important to remember that Iran stands behind Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and that the Islamic Republic opposes any agreement that puts an end to hostilities with Israel. These two organizations fan the flames of struggle with Israel whenever they feel it is necessary, and Israel has neither the political nor public will to enter into negotiations while rockets are being launched at it from Gaza. That is how the two organizations can manage to stymie any progress in negotiations meant to advance the "Deal of the Century" – and that is why its chances of success are not particularly sanguine.

Even if the Israel government and its citizenry accept the "Deal of the Century," that act will have little significance because the probability that the Palestinian side accepts it is minimal. Nevertheless, it is extremely important that Israel refrain from announcing any territorial or other concessions until the other side signs a permanent peace agreement and ends its claims against Israel. Any unilateral Israeli concessions will be remembered forever and taken for granted, placing the starting position of possible future negotiations past the point where Israel conceded something in the "Deal of the Century", even if that deal never reaches fruition.

These and other reasons mean that the "Deal of the Century" will in all probability be consigned to the shelf where numerous other "Peace Plans" gather dust, despite the good and pure intentions of those suggesting them from the year 1947 (The Partition Plan) up to the present.

There is a verse in the Koran saying: "Allah is on the side of those who are patient," and Israel's neighbors have a good deal of patience. They are prepared to wait and wait until the opportunity for them to destroy Israel arrives, so why bother granting peace to the Jewish State?

MEMRI: Articles In Jordanian Press Call For New Intifada In West Bank, To Thwart The 'Deal Of The Century'
Ahead of the announcement of the U.S. Middle East peace plan known as the "Deal of the Century," and in light of concerns in Jordan that its implications may threaten the kingdom's stability,[1]the Jordanian press, including the government daily Al-Rai, has recently published scathing articles against Israel that contain calls for a new Palestinian intifada in the West Bank in order to thwart this deal, among other goals.

The following are excerpts from some of these articles:

Columnist For Government Daily Al-Rai: A Serious Intifada In The West Bank Is The Best Way To Thwart The 'Deal Of The Century'

In his April 26, 2019 column in the government daily Al-Rai, titled "How Shall We Deal with the Deal of the Century?", journalist Muhammad 'Ali Marzouq Al-Zuyoud called on the Palestinian factions to rally around the spirit of resistance, since a serious intifada is the best way to foil the Deal of the Century. He wrote: "I believe that the crime of forming this 'deal' will advance [the goals of] burying the right of return, settling the refugees [in the countries hosting them], declaring all of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the occupying Zionist entity, and confining the Palestinians to small areas in the West Bank, with Abu Dis perhaps serving as the capital...

"All the Palestinian forces and factions, chief of them Fatah and Hamas, must reconcile directly and reembrace the principles of liberation, otherwise, their positions on the 'deal' will be cast into severe doubt... [The Palestinians] must immediately stop the security coordination with the occupation, support and encourage all the liberation forces in Palestine, and spread the spirit of resistance and confrontation among the people – for a serious revolution or intifada inside the occupied territories is the best way to thwart any deal or plan..."[2]

Al-Dustour Columnist: We Need A Palestinian Intifada That Will Reverse All The Existing Equations

In his April 23 article in the daily Al-Dustour,[3] Hussein Al-Rawashdeh wrote that, given the dire condition of the Arab world, and given that the Israelis understand only the language of force, the Palestinians have no choice but to launch a new intifada that will unite them and the Arab world as well. He wrote: "What is happening in our Arab world today is the blatant declaration of a third Nakba, and if we do not confront it with a third intifada, the aggression will [continue] and we will pass down its effects and tragedies to our children and grandchildren, as we have done for the past decades...



MEMRI: Palestinian Authority Culture Minister: Maybe President Trump Should Stand Trial For His Policy On The Palestinians; His Advisors Are Accessories To Israel's Crimes Against The Palestinians
In an article titled "America and its Collusion in Crime," published May 20, 2019 in the Palestinian Al-Ayyam daily, Atef Abu Saif, culture minister in the Palestinian Authority (PA) government and former Fatah spokesman, claimed that U.S. President Donald Trump, his senior advisors Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had shown complete and even deliberate ignorance about the historical facts pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that they had enthusiastically adopted the false Israeli narrative. He noted that some Washington politicians are "more extreme than the colonialists who steal the land" and "more Zionist than the child killers in our country," adding that their attempt to force this narrative on the Palestinians makes them accessories to the crimes committed against them by Israel. He suggested that the Palestinians consider prosecuting President Trump for his behavior toward them, which he said could be unlawful.

This article, which was published in anticipation of the release of the Trump administration's peace plan, dubbed "The Deal of the Century," and followed the announcement that an international workshop would be held in June in Bahrain to discuss the deal's economic aspects,[1] reflects the PA's tough stance in recent months against the proposed deal and against President Trump and his senior advisors.[2] During this time, senior PA officials have continued to reject the deal out of hand, and have depicted all efforts to promote it as attempts to negate the national rights of the Palestinian people and the principles of international law. Furthermore, articles in the PA mouthpiece Al-Hayat Al-Jadida have stated that Trump's foreign policy is leading the U.S. and the entire world to the brink of an abyss, and that everyone must rally to ensure that it fails.[3]

Senior PA officials were also quick to reject the Bahrain international workshop for discussing the economic aspect of the Deal of the Century. Palestinian Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that the workshop would be futile, and that "any economic plan with no political horizon will lead to nothing."[4] PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said: "We will not surrender to extortion and we will not convert our rights into currency."[5]
MEMRI: Ramadan Religious Lesson By Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual Leader Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, Published By Qatari Government Daily: The Jews Opposed Muhammad, Therefore Allah Cursed Them And Turned Them Into Apes And Pigs; The Christians Were Stricken With Ideological Blindness And Strayed
Every day during Ramadan, the Qatari government daily Al-Arab publishes a Quran lesson by Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, who for many years headed the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). He is considered a leading ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood and has been protected and supported by the Qatari regime for many years.

In his lesson published May 14, 2019, Al-Qaradawi focused on the concluding verses of the first Surah of the Quran, Al-Fatiha (The Opening), which states: "Guide us to the straight path – the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not [the path] of those who have evoked [Your] anger or [the path] of those who are astray" (Quran 1:7). Al-Qaradawi reiterated the common interpretation of this verse, i.e. that "those upon whom You have bestowed favor" refers to the Muslims, while "those who have evoked [Your] anger" refers to the Jews and "those who are astray" refers to the Christians.[1] He stated that Chapter Al-Fatiha is "the daily prayer Muslims repeat at least 17 times [every day]," underscores the identity of the Muslim, which is different from that of non-Muslims.

According to Al-Qaradawi, the Jews stubbornly opposed the Prophet Muhammad and acted arrogantly and fanatically, and thus are deserving of Allah's wrath. He also quoted Quran 5:60, in which Allah turned the Jews into apes and pigs. With regard to the Christians, Al-Qaradawi said that they were stricken with ideological blindness and could not distinguish the truth of Islam from falsehood, and thus they had gone astray.

It should be noted that there was a dispute in Egypt regarding this common interpretation, and that well-known sheikhs, among them 19th-century religious reformist Muhammad 'Abduh and others, had rejected this interpretation.[2] In September 2017, Egypt's Al-Azhar institution stated that the term "astray" in the Quran, traditionally associated with the Christians, does not refer to any particular sect but to anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who does not follow the righteous path. Al-Azhar's clarification made no reference to the phrase "those who have evoked [Your] anger," traditionally associated with the Jews.[3]
PreOccupiedTerritory: Jews Living Rent-Free In Islamist Heads Also Not Paying Jizya There (satire)
Observers noted this week that not only do Islamists dedicate large portions of their minds to Jews and charge nothing for the space allotted, they appear to violate Islamic principles by neglecting to enforce collection from those Jews of the mandatory tax on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule.

None of the millions of Muslims committed to imposing Islam on the world as a political system charge even a token amount of rent for the space that Jews occupy in the Islamists’ heads, new evidence indicates, but experts note that moreover, those whose devotion to Islam causes them to obsess over Jews and perceived Jewish perfidy inexplicably do not extract jizya “protection” payments from the Jews that live in the Islam-dominated realm that is the Islamists’ heads.

Islamic Law, known as Sharia, demands that all non-Muslims who come under Islamic rule convert to Islam, but that as People of the Book, Jews and Christians may instead pay a tax called jizya, and live under certain restrictions that cement their inferior status in law, public life, and other arenas. In theory, at least, this dhimmi status affords these groups some protection, but in practice differs little from the discriminatory treatment Jews suffered under Christian rule. Islamic sensibilities further stipulate that any place once conquered by an Islamic army becomes Dar-al-Islam, the domain of Islam, and may not revert to non-Islamic status. Islamists’ minds, therefore, may not refrain from collecting the jizya from dhimmi residing there; it appears, however, that the selfsame Islamists intent on the imposition and enforcement of Sharia outside their heads take no such measures against the Jews living rent-free inside them.
Trump has ‘trumped’ the Islamic Mafia
The Trump administration announced on Sunday the first stages of the peace plan roll-out, confirming that it will host a workshop in Bahrain in late June to focus on more direct economic investments of the West Bank and Gaza.

The gathering, formally dubbed the “Peace to Prosperity Workshop,” will take place on June 25-26 and will be attended by several Gulf Arab States as well as Arab partners for peace all over the region. The goal of the conference is to build alliances for peace and relationships for major economic investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with backing by the United States and the Arab world.

In recent weeks, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, announced that the peace plan would begin unveiling in June, after Ramadan. This is the first indication that the Trump team will release the first portion of this ambitious and highly anticipated proposal to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

By holding this barrier-breaking conference, President Trump and his administration have “trumped” the Islamic Mafia. The expression “Islamic Mafia” refers to the Islamic entities that have held back the Arab world and peace in the Middle East for decades, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

I myself have seen the righteous work President Trump is doing. Earlier this year, I met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, as well as with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the United Arab Emirates. These two princes have been part of the catalyst to bringing about a new future and a stronger Middle East. Their fight has been quiet, but powerful – reforming institutions at home and building bridges for peace in the region.
US: Deal 'not only economic'; Bahrain: Workshop ‘serves no other purpose'
A day after the US and Bahrain jointly issued a communique announcing an “economic workshop” in Manama in June – the first phase in the Trump administration’s rollout of its long-awaited peace plan – the US stressed that the “deal of the century” was not just an economic one, while Bahrain underlined that this particular meeting was.

“To those falsely claiming our vision is just economic peace: we’ve been clear that the economic vision we present can’t exist without the political component, and the political component can’t succeed without the economic,” Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, said in a tweet. “Don’t believe rumors the plan is only economic. It’s not.”

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement reiterating the country’s support for Palestinian statehood, and stressing that Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said “the Kingdom’s hosting of the ‘Peace for Prosperity’ workshop is part of its efforts to empower the Palestinian people through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources. He stressed that the hosting of the workshop serves no other purpose.”

The statement “affirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain’s official and popular position remains supportive of the brotherly Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate rights on their land as well as establishing an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to supporting the Palestinian economy in bilateral and international forums.”

According to the statement, Khalifa “expressed sincere appreciation to the Palestinian leadership for its continued efforts and firm stances in protecting the rights of the brotherly Palestinian people and fulfilling their aspirations. He asserted that there is no way to doubt or belittle the peaceful approach of the Palestinian leadership, affirming that the Kingdom remains supportive of the Palestinian people.”

The Bahraini statement came after the Palestinian leadership dismissed the planned “economic workshop” in Bahrain and made clear they would boycott it.
Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm they will attend Bahrain economic peace summit
Following an announcement Sunday that Bahrain and the United States will host an economic leadership “workshop” to “share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by [the upcoming U.S.] peace agreement,” the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have announced that they will send delegations to participate.

“The UAE supports all international efforts aimed at supporting economic progress and increasing opportunities in the region, and alleviating the suffering of people in the region, particularly our brothers in Palestine,” the UAE Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The UAE reiterates its support for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the ministry said.

The Saudi Press Agency confirmed the participation of Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed bin Mazid Al-Tuwaijri on Sunday, saying in a statement that “His Excellency’s participation is in continuation of Saudi Arabia’s firm and supportive positions for the Palestinian people,” with the goal of “achieving [for them] stability, growth and decent living. And achieving general security, stability and prosperity in the region.”

The “Peace to Prosperity” summit is scheduled for June 25-26 and will mark the first phase of the roll-out of U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinian Officials Vow to Boycott Bahrain Summit
The economic part of Trump's peace plan is rolling out in late June in Bahrain. Jared Kushner is feeling confident the US will achieve what no one has before. How does the Arab world see it? Our Emily Rose has the story.


Battle in Jerusalem over ‘Jordan Option’ for Peace in the Middle East
The so-called ‘Jordan Option’ might be off the table for Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century,’ but it is very much alive in a court battle happening now in Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court.

Ideas can be seductive. The so-called ‘Jordan Option’ as a strategy for achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians is one of those ideas. It is especially seductive for a few very bright—and very right-wing—Israelis who are enamored with a UK-based fugitive, Mudar Zahran. From his home in Britain, Zahran pledges to overthrow Jordanian King Abdullah II, bring all Palestinians under his rule, surrender the entirety of Judea and Samaria to Israel, and so, without negotiations, bring peace to the Middle East.

Some have signed up, but there is one who has all but sold his soul: 82-year-old Ted Belman.

Belman, a retired Canadian attorney, now an Israeli living in Jerusalem, is the editor of IsraPundit, a news blog website.

He is also a self-proclaimed partner with Zahran to overthrow the current monarch of Jordan, King Abdullah II.

Ted Belman screenshot | Photo: YouTube screenshotIn fact, there are variations of the ‘Jordan Option’ that, on their face, are compelling. The essence of the idea is that, in large part or en masse, Palestinians should become citizens of Jordan. Some would move there, while others would stay in West Bank areas conceded as cantons to the administration of a newly confederated Palestinian State of Jordan.
Iran concerned over Trump’s 'anti-Palestinian plot'
Iran’s Tasnim News issued a special report on Wednesday highlighting the US decision to hold a conference in Manama, Bahrain on June 25-26 aimed at supporting the Palestinians. According to the Iranian media analysis, the meeting is actually a form of “anti-Palestinian plot.” The discussion in Iranian media symbolizes wider concern in Tehran over the US push for an Israel-Palestinian agreement working closely with Gulf Arab states.

Tasnim termed the Bahrain event a form of “Arab betrayal” and that the US was trying to get Riyadh to use “petrodollars” to “sell Palestine.” The article highlighted the weakness of Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy and that Saudi Arabia is the main supporter of Bahrain.

The report notes that the US is seeking to end the Palestinian refugee issue and the weakening of the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas.

“The meeting presents the deceptive image of peace through prosperity,” Tasnim notes. It claims that the Saudi government is plotting against the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) and that it is willing to give up on demands for Israel to end its “occupation” of Jerusalem.

“Trump is proceeding along two avenues, the political and economic sphere,” the analysis claims. It notes that Trump ended support for UNRWA and recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel. “The Manama summit shows that the US, Zionists and Arab regimes believe they can, through economic prosperity for the Palestinians, get them to give up their destiny and legitimate rights.”
Questions raised over planned Florida Cabinet meeting in Israel
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to Israel with a large contingent of business leaders — not surprisingly, especially as the GOP woos Jewish voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

But DeSantis’s plan to hold a meeting with his elected Cabinet while he’s there has raised concerns about whether officials are violating the state’s open-meeting laws.

Concerns have also been raised in state media about the as-yet unannounced costs of the mission, which is expected to include about 80 people, mostly state lawmakers and businesspeople.

When DeSantis first announced the trade mission, he noted that his attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner would accompany him, and that the Cabinet would hold a meeting at the US embassy in Jerusalem during the trip, which runs from May 25 to May 31.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat and the first Jewish woman ever elected to Florida’s Cabinet, had previously planned a trade mission to Israel — like DeSantis, the trip is a campaign promise to voters.
CAIR urge LA mayor to apologize for backing Jerusalem embassy move
Pro-Palestinian US groups have called on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to retract his statement saying he supports the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Garcetti, a Democrat, made the statement last week in Jerusalem while leading a delegation from the US Conference of Mayors, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee Project Interchange, on a five-day visit to Israel.

“I support the embassy being here,” the Jewish mayor said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “Israel shouldn’t be the only country in the world that can’t determine where its capital will be, but there is usually a process to these things rather than what seems like an overnight, one-sided, partisan move.”

In response, the local chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network and other left-wing organizations on Sunday called on the mayor to apologize for that support.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and US ambassador to Israel David Friedman stand next to the dedication plaque at the US embassy in Jerusalem on March 21, 2019. (Jim Young/Pool/AFP)

Estee Chandler, founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, said in a statement that the mayor’s “endorsement of the illegal move to consolidate Israeli annexation of land furthers the endangering of the lives of both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis on the ground.” The group backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.
Israel lashes top UN official for praising Hezbollah deputy chief
Israel on Tuesday slammed the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis for meeting with and praising a senior Hezbollah leader.

On Monday, Kubis wrote on Twitter that he had met with Naim Qassem, the deputy head of the Iran-linked terror group. He also recommended Qassem’s book.

Kubis tweeted that he was “grateful for an open and substantive discussion on a broad range of topics with Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem of Hizbullah. On top I received a copy of his book — a necessary reading.”

“We are shocked and disappointed by this meeting with a designated terror organization’s leader, threatening Israel, Lebanon and the whole region,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted.

In addition to the tweet from Kubis’s account, his office later retweeted the post and translated it into Arabic.

Kubis was likely referring to “Hizbullah (Hezbollah): The Story from Within,” a 464-page tome first published in English a decade ago. The book, published by the London-based Saqi Books, is available on Amazon.

Ex-spy Pollard accuses Israel of not caring about ‘getting us home’
Former spy Jonathan Pollard told an Israeli TV channel that Jerusalem has not done enough to help him immigrate to the country after his release from prison over three years ago, in a rare interview aired Tuesday.

Pollard, who spent 30 years in jail in the United States and is still restricted under his parole agreement, strongly criticized the Israeli leadership for not caring about him and said the government had missed several opportunities to come to his aid.

Pollard has been prevented from moving to the Jewish state with his wife Esther since his November 2015 release from prison. He will be eligible to leave the US in 2020.

“If I didn’t believe in Hashem I’d be very depressed right now,” he told Channel 12 news, using another name for God.

Asked if he was disappointed by Israel’s efforts on his behalf, he said: “To be disappointed you have to expect more and my expectation level is so low that I’m not surprised… The government’s indifference toward getting us home would be crushing if I didn’t know that our faith in Hashem and our love of the land and the people is so strong and it will eventually see us home.”

Pollard, a former civilian US Navy analyst, was given a life sentence in 1987 for passing secrets to Israel. He became a cause célèbre as Israeli and US Jewish community leaders lobbied for his release for decades.
The worst crime in the Arab sector
While the media is holding passionate discourse about a bill that would grant the prime minister immunity and the public lines up in favor of or against it, it is of no difference to 20% of the residents of Israel, because all they want is to be immune themselves – immune against shootings and street violence in their communities. I’m talking about us, the Arabs.

Nearly every day reports out of Nazareth, Tamra, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, and Kafr Kanna inform us of murders in Arab society. In many of these cases, the victims are innocent. It’s only May, and since the start of the year, the Arab sector in Israel has seen 24 murders. Arab society is plagued with urgent internal problems that range from difficult socio-economic conditions to faulty infrastructure to a high rate of crime and lack of safety. This is a reality that makes no sense.

Although we have representatives in the Knesset, they don’t work to promote solutions to these problems and aren’t putting the matter on the government’s agenda. When MKs like Ayman Odeh and Aida Touma-Sliman take aim at the police, they forget to note that a little less than a year ago they voted against setting up new police stations in Arab local authorities, which the cabinet decided to do under an amendment to existing law that would increase police presence and law enforcement in the Arab sector. How can they blame others, when the responsibility for that not happening falls squarely on their own shoulders?

In recent years, Arab MKs have neglected their constituency and busied themselves with incitement, divisiveness, and external matters – all at the expense of their voters. On Election Day, the Arab public demonstrated apathy, and most of them stayed home in protest. This led the Arab parties to lose numbers, with the Balad list hovering over the minimum electoral threshold. After the election, Odeh promised to look into the matter to discover what had led to the low voter turnout among Arabs. It appears that hasn’t happened yet.
Israel okays armored cars for PA security forces, to settlers’ chagrin
Israel has authorized the transfer of 10 armored cars to Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, after years of rejecting such requests, Palestinian media reported Tuesday.

The vehicles provide by the European Union entered the West Bank through Jordan, the report said.

It was not clear what led to Israel to okay the entry of the cars at the present time, but the move came amid concerns that the Palestinian Authority could downgrade security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank over a dispute involving tax revenues. Israeli officials say the cooperation is vital for anti-terror efforts.

Unnamed security officials told Hebrew media outlets Tuesday evening that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman approved the transfer over nine moths ago, at Washington’s request.

Tensions between Israel and the PA have risen in recent months over Israel’s decision to deduct from its tax transfers to the PA the sums of money the Palestinians pay to imprisoned terrorists and terror suspects, as well as the families of those killed in attacks against Israelis.
IDF Safely Returns 2 Children Abandoned by Gazan Parents
Two Arab children from Gaza on Sunday were abandoned by their adult chaperones at the Erez Crossing after being released from Al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, while their chaperones remained in Israel illegally and without permits.

The IDF said Monday that the children were cared for and returned to Gaza by the Civil Administration.

This is not the first time Gazans have abandoned their children in favor of staying in Israel illegally.

The IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), entrusted with serving the Arab population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, revealed in February a case of a four-year-old child who was found abandoned at the Erez Crossing. After the child received medical treatment in Israel, and it was time to return to the Gaza Strip, his father abandoned him and chose instead to stay behind as an illegal alien in Israel.

“The parent, who was supposed to escort his child and give him a sense of security, chose to remain in Israel as an illegal alien and send his child back, alone, to the Gaza Strip without anyone familiar who could bring him or her home,” the IDF said.

COGAT said that they encounter several such cases of abandonment a month.
Smuggling of millions of balloons to Gaza thwarted
Millions of balloons from China have been prevented from being smuggled into Gaza. Following early intelligence information received by the Tax Authority, containers were found in the port of Ashdod where the balloons, in the colors of the Palestinian Authority, were stored.

The balloons were supposed to arrive in Gaza and serve as incendiary balloons to be launched into Israeli territory.

The Ashkelon Magistrates' Court today accepted the request of the YASAM unit of the Customs House of Ashdod and ordered the release under restrictive conditions of David Cohen (50), owner of DC Logistics Ltd. , suspected of importing hundreds of thousands of balloons, in the colors of the Palestinian Authority, using his Israeli citizenship to evade security checks.

According to the detention request, the customs unit of Ashdod Customs House accumulated intelligence information indicating that DC Logistics Ltd., owned by the suspect, intends to import a huge quantity of balloons and transfer them immediately to a resident of Hevron who intended to transfer them gradually to Gaza.
Koran female teacher arrested for 'harming' Palestinian security forces
Palestinians have launched a campaign to demand that the Palestinian Authority release a Palestinian woman who was arrested inside a mosque while she was teaching the Koran.

The woman, Ala’ Bashir, 23, was arrested two weeks ago by PA security officers in a mosque in the village of Jainsafout, east of Kalkilya. Witnesses said 25 security officers raided the Othman Bin Affan mosque and arrested Bashir while she was teaching children the Koran.

The PA’s Preventive Security Service (PSS), whose members arrested Bashir, said she was taken into custody on the basis of information that “certain parties operating outside the national consensus, and which had contributed to the destabilization of surrounding Arab countries, had exploited her difficult psychological and social condition.”

The PSS did not name the alleged parties. However, it said that they had sought to “incite and recruit the woman, with the help of some members of illegal armed militias, to harm the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.”

Bashir was arrested in order to save her from this exploitation attempt, the PSS added. “She was arrested in accordance with the law, and her arrest has nothing to do with political affiliation,” the PSS said, adding that her lawyers and a representative of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights have been allowed to visit Bashir in prison.

However, some Palestinian lawyers complained that their request to visit Bashir in prison has been turned down by the PA security forces.


Progress made in demarcation talks between Israel and Lebanon - report
Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon from Israel as talks on the demarcation of maritime and land borders between the two enemy countries progresses.

Satterfield returned to Beirut on Tuesday with a “positive impression” from Israel, according to a report by the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat.

According to the report, Israel agreed on the demarcation but had asked for clarification on some issues.

“Satterfield is trying to get answers from Lebanon,” sources were quoted by Asharq al-Awsat as saying, adding that it was the first time that Satterfield “had conveyed a positive atmosphere by the Israeli side, unlike previous times.”

Beirut has repeated its refusal to hold direct negotiations with Israel so Satterfield said that Washington was ready to act as a “facilitator” in talks between the two countries if the two countries agree on a new mechanism to resolve the maritime dispute.
U.S. Warns Assad Regime Preparing New Chemical Weapons Attacks
The United States confirmed that it sees evidence that embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is gearing up to again use chemical weapons attacks against his citizens in a protracted and bitter war that has caused scores of casualties in the war torn country.

"We continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19, 2019," the State Department said in a statement. "We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately."

The Trump administration will not stand idly by while Assad uses these lethal weapons, the State Department said in its statement.

The United States continues to closely monitor the situation.

"The United States continues to closely watch the military operations by the Assad regime in northwest Syria, including indications of any new use of chemical weapons by the regime," the State Department said.
Iraq Is Now Another Country from Which Iran Can Fire Missiles at Israel
On May 9, the head of one of the many Tehran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq gave a speech accusing Israel of support for Islamic State and, moreover, threatened that once his group and its allies had vanquished their Sunni enemies, they would turn to the task of destroying the Jewish state. These threats, writes Jonathan Spyer, should not be taken as mere bluster, especially amidst the rising tensions in the Persian Gulf:

[T]he area encompassing Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon today constitutes a single arena from an Iranian operational point of view. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) [and its proxies] have freedom of action in each of these areas. . . .

Iran is making use of its Iraqi militia clients to deploy short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) in the deserts of western Iraq—with the intention that these could be launched against Israel at a time of Iran’s choosing. . . . Tehran has also established facilities for missile production in western Iraq, and is employing Iraqi citizens to carry out this work. . . .

The ability of Iran to operate a de-facto contiguous line of control across Iraq, and thence to Syria, Lebanon, and the borders with the Golan Heights, is thus not under serious doubt. It appears that Tehran has begun to station SRBMs along this route, directed at Israel, and manned by the IRGC-directed militias—an arrangement intended to provide Iran with deniability in the event of their being used. . . . In the remote deserts of western Iraq, Iran’s servants are busily at work preparing a new front against Israel.
Seth Frantzman: Former intelligence officer: Here is how the U.S. could confront Iran
Pregent notes that the current US campaign of pressure is working. Iran is having trouble funding operations in Syria and funding Hezbollah. Iran’s allies in Iraq are losing support and, by wasting money abroad, Iran’s regime is also losing support at home. For instance, Pregent notes that Iran’s supreme leader is briefed on the price of eggs and chickens each morning, a sign that Iran fears shortages and price raises for basic goods. It also cannot act with impunity in the region for fear of provoking both a European response and other Middle Eastern countries.

Israel is well positioned to handle the Hamas and Hezbollah threat, Pregent says. “The US is well positioned to respond to an effective attack in multiple areas. I would argue that any response should have a proxy target and an IRGC one as well, hit both simultaneously.”

For instance, that means if the US decided an Iraqi Shi’ite militia was responsible for the May 19 rocket attack near the embassy, it could strike a militia target and an IRGC adviser or command “node” somewhere else. It could even mean bracketing the attack, with one strike in Iraq and one in Syria. “Any response would be the first in 40 years and would mean something to the regime.”

Iran is watching US rhetoric and behavior carefully. Its proxies have sought to downplay their involvement in recent incidents, and Tehran is attempting to telegraph that neither it nor Trump want war. But at the same time, Iranian media continues to brag about some of its allies. For instance, Fars News says that the Houthis in Yemen humiliated the “great arsenal” of the Saudis.

Trump warned on May 19 that if Tehran wants a fight, it would result in the “official end of Iran” but he left open a call for negotiations. “In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse, very sad for the Iranian people,” he tweeted.
'This is about deterrence, not about war'
U.S. officials who briefed Congress about Iran on Tuesday sought to convince lawmakers that President Donald Trump’s administration wants to deter Tehran’s aggression, not attack the Islamic republic, members of Congress said.

“I hope they’re tamping down [the rhetoric]. They tried to give that impression,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters after the classified briefing for the full House of Representatives.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan held the briefing after lawmakers, including Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, clamored for weeks for more information about escalating tensions with Iran.

The administration officials held a similar briefing, also behind closed doors, for the full Senate later on Tuesday.

At the closed-door sessions, they spelled out to lawmakers what they described as the imminent threat from Iran, or its proxies, to U.S. personnel in the Middle East. Several Democrats said they were skeptical about the extent of the threat, but Trump’s fellow Republicans generally agreed there was a heightened risk to Americans.
Dem Leaders Side With Iran as Trump Admin Seeks to Counter Terror Regime
Democratic congressional leaders held a press conference on Tuesday in which they sided with Iran in an increasingly tense standoff that has pitted the hardline Islamic regime against the Trump administration as it seeks to thwart Tehran's regional terror operations.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) and other top Democrats lashed out at the Trump administration over its efforts to isolate the Iranian regime, claiming in talking points that mirror those from Iranian leadership that President Donald Trump and his national security team are "itching for a confrontation with Iran."

The Democrats, who have sought to obstruct the administration since it pulled out of the the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal, have sought to stake out a foreign policy that sides with Tehran in the ongoing dispute, which has seen the Islamic Republic sponsor a series of terror attacks in the Middle East, including against American military assets.

"Make no mistake, this president and his administration are itching for a confrontation with Iran," Durbin said, repeating talking points issued by Iran in recent weeks claiming that Trump is seeking another Iraq war.
Yemen’s Houthis Launch Drone Attack on Saudi’s Najran Airport: Al Masirah TV
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched a drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s Najran airport, the group’s Al Masirah TV said early on Wednesday.

It said it targeted hangars containing war planes. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. There was also no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia or the Saudi-led coalition.
Turkey: Erdogan Describes Armenian Genocide as 'Reasonable Relocation'
Anahit Khosroeva, an Assyrian genocide scholar and lecturer at the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences based in Armenia, told Gatestone:
"What Erdogan falsely calls the 'relocation' was for us -- the descendants of the survivors of the Armenian and Assyrian genocides – depatriation. Indigenous Armenians and Assyrians got annihilated in their own ancient homeland.

"The assertion [by Erdogan and other genocide deniers] that Turkish archives are open is also far from reality – particularly from the point of view of access to materials on the Armenian and Assyrian Genocides by impartial scholars. The archives are open, but only for the researchers working for Turkish state interests.

"No matter what Turkey says, the Armenian Genocide as a crime against humanity has been recognized and condemned by 27 countries across the world."


This has not prevented Erdogan and his supporters from simultaneously denying the genocide and being proud of it. This is the propaganda mechanism that has turned the victims into perpetrators, and has shaped Turkey's official historiography since the establishment of the Republic in 1923. Turkish school books still teach that the "treacherous" Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians forced the Ottoman Turks to act in self-defense.

Meanwhile, on the day that Erdogan made the speech in which he held the genocide victims responsible for their own plight, Turkish police prevented the Human Rights Association (IHD) from holding a scheduled commemoration ceremony in Istanbul.

The IHD therefore held the ceremony at its office. At the ceremony, IHD co-chair Eren Keskin said:

"We are again living under the power of unlawfulness. We are again getting through a period of grave human rights violations. The cursed legacy is continuing in new forms.

"Today is April 24th - the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. But the reaction to commemorating the genocide is strong. Even declaring a day of commemoration is not tolerated."
Turkey Preparing for Possible US Sanctions Over S-400s: Minister
Turkey’s defense minister said it was preparing for potential US sanctions over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, even while he said there was some improvement in talks with the United States over buying F-35 fighter jets.

Turkey and the United States have been at odds on several fronts including Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Washington says it would jeopardize Turkey’s role in building Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, which it says would be compromised by S-400s.

While Washington has warned that Ankara faced sanctions under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it presses on with the deal, Turkey has said it expected US President Donald Trump to protect it.

Speaking to reporters late on Tuesday, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey was fulfilling its responsibilities in the F-35 project and expected the program to continue as planned. He said buying the S-400s was only meant to meet Turkey’s defense needs and posed no threats.




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