Tuesday, January 28, 2020

From Ian:

Israel Facing Monumental Decisions
Fate has sent Israel a rare set of circumstances that is unlikely to come our way again. The “deal of the century” really is a once-in-a-century opportunity, and Israel must seize it.

In October 1937, David Ben-Gurion wrote to his son Amos: “A partial Jewish state is not an end but a beginning … a powerful lever in our efforts to redeem the land in its entirety.”

US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which could potentially rip the Israeli nation’s ancient homeland in two, is also not the end, but rather the beginning.

Israel is facing a Ben-Gurion-style monumental decision: Some 73 years after the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, providence has sent the State of Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a rare set of circumstances that is unlikely to come our way again. The “deal of the century” really is a once-in-a-century opportunity, and Israel must seize it.

The full details of Trump’s peace plan will be revealed soon enough, but if what we know about it so far is true – if Jerusalem, even without the Arab neighborhoods beyond the security fence, remains ours; if the Temple Mount is left under Israeli sovereignty; if all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria fall under Israeli rule, and if the settlement enterprise in historical lands, the cradle of the Israeli nation, will have territorial continuity and become part of greater Israel – than we must say yes to Trump’s plan.

In 1947, too, the partition plan tore the land of Israel in two, leaving the Western and central Galilee, the eastern part of the Negev, including Beersheba, and even Jaffa (as an enclave) within the borders of the proposed Arab state.

In 2020, too, Trump’s plan will tear Judea and Samaria, the heart of our homeland, apart, and leaves about 70% to a future Palestinian entity. But what time and Arab rejectionism did in the past, time and Palestinian rejectionism will do in the future.

Embracing Trump’s plan at this time is just the beginning, even if parts of it are a bitter pill to swallow.
The Deal of the Century
“The Deal of the Century,” if the leaked details are even close to accurate, is a non-starter. That is the simple take-away. But should Israel wait for the Arabs to blow it up on their own? And then what?

The basic contours being leaked about the forthcoming Trump Mideast plan, which he predictably, in his own typically understated modest way, calls “The Deal of the Century,” suggest that:

1. Israel would get to annex all Jewish communities presently established in Judea and Samaria.

2. Approximately 30-40 percent of Judea and Samaria formally would be integrated into Israel, reunifying those lands.

3. The Arabs in Judea and Samaria (“Palestinians”) would get their own independent country in what is left of Judea and Samaria after Israel annexes its 30-40 percent.

4. Hamas would have to be demilitarized.

5. “Palestine” would have to be demilitarized.

6. Jerusalem would be united. Arabs in Jerusalem could deem themselves “Palestinians.”

7. No new Jewish neighborhoods would be allowed to be added to Greater Jerusalem.

8. No new Jewish communities could be created in Judea and Samaria.

9. Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that presently exist and are being annexed would not be permitted to expand further.

10. “Palestine” would be barred from having a military and would be protected instead by Israel, with “Palestine” paying for the protection.
PMW: PLO calls for terror against Trump's deal: "Escalate the resistance and the struggle... in all its forms"
In anticipation of the revelation of US President Trump’s Middle East peace plan – the so-called “deal of the century” - the PLO, the PA, and Fatah are emphasizing their rejection of the still unknown plan. They have also announced a “day of rage” on the day the plan is revealed, and called for “escalation of resistance” – a Palestinian euphemism for violence and terror.

Abbas’ Fatah Movement posted a photo of a Palestinian rock thrower in a call for violence accompanied by text implicitly encouraging Palestinians to seek death as martyrs for “Palestine”:
Posted text and text on image: “We will redeem you with our blood, #Palestine”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 26, 2020]

Similarly, the PLO urged Palestinians to “escalate the resistance and the struggle” against Israel “in all its forms and manners.” Terms like “all forms” and “all means” are ‎used by PA leaders to include the use of all types of violence, including deadly terror ‎against Israeli civilians such as stabbings and shootings, as well as throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails:
“The [Palestinian] National Council (i.e., the legislative body of the PLO) again expressed its objection to every plan, project, deal, or attempt to harm the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights… The National Council yesterday [Jan. 26, 2020] demanded that the PLO Executive Committee implement all of the National Council and [PLO] Central Council’s decisions – and foremost among them the decision determining that the transition period has ended with all of the political, security, and financial obligations in it towards the Israeli occupation – and also to take all the necessary steps to encourage and escalate the resistance and the struggle against the occupation in all its forms and manners.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2020]

Trump peace plan gives Israel chunks of West Bank, creates Palestinian state
US officials say President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan calls for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in portions of East Jerusalem, ending speculation as to whether his administration, in preparing a proposal without input from Palestinian leaders, would abandon a “two-state resolution” to the conflict.

The officials say the plan to be unveiled on Tuesday more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, although it also recognizes Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank, something to which the Palestinians will almost certainly object. The Palestinians have already rejected the proposal, accusing Trump of being biased in favor of Israel as he has adopted policies that bolster Israel at their expense.

The plan does call for a four-year freeze in new Israeli settlement construction, during which time details of a comprehensive agreement would be negotiated, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump’s announcement. However, it was not immediately clear if the freeze could be extended if a final deal is not concluded in the four years.

The 50-page political outline goes further in concessions to the Palestinians than many analysts had believed was likely. However, it would require them to accept conditions they have been previously unwilling to consider, such as accepting West Bank settlements. It builds on a 30-page economic plan for the West Bank and Gaza that was unveiled last June and which the Palestinians have also rejected.

Under the terms of the “peace vision” that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working on for nearly three years, the future Palestinian state would consist of the West Bank and Gaza, connected by a combination of above-ground roads and tunnels, according to the officials.
'Trump's plan is the best deal the Right will ever get' US official says
A senior American official, speaking with Israel Hayom on Monday, harshly criticized a letter written by a group of rabbis from the religious-Zionist camp to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which they "recognize the historic moment" but say the Trump peace plan carries the risk of "creating a terror state."

The American officials lambasted the letter, saying: "They are squandering the moment, and don't understand the immense advantages this plan entails in terms of their worldview. The [Israeli] right will not get anything better than this."

The official also addressed claims by some on the Right that the Trump plan will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. "If you look at the dictionary, you'll understand this isn't the definition of a state. That is not what the plan allows, and so the resistance from the Right and the rabbis is a mistake."

As stated, senior religious-Zionist rabbis, among them Rabbi Haim Drukman, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon and Rabbi Eliyahu Zini, together with 50 other community rabbis, sent a forceful letter to Netanyahu and called on him to be wary of the dangers they say are inherent to Trump's peace plan.

The rabbis penned the letter after Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan announced he would depart for Washington to attend a series of emergency meetings with senior Republican officials and Evangelical leaders, who comprise the US president's voter base, to present the settlement enterprise's red lines and to prevent recognition of a Palestinian state and the isolation of certain settlements within the plan's framework.

The letter was the brainchild of Dagan and Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, the head of the Association of Communal Rabbis. The letter said the rabbis "recognize this historic moment for the Jewish people, and sincerely support you [Netanyahu] in applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, but we understand that the plan comes with danger – the establishment of a terror state."
With PM at his side, Trump says without Palestinians ‘we don’t do the deal’
The US administration will publish its long-anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump confirmed on Monday, standing next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

“Peace in the Middle East has been long sought, for many, many years and decades and centuries. This is an opportunity. We’ll see what happens. Whatever it is, it is,” he said in the White House Rose Garden.

“Tomorrow at 12 o’clock, we’re going to show a plan, it’s been worked on by everybody. And we’ll see whether or not it catches hold. If it does, that would be great. And if it doesn’t, we’re going to have to live with that too. But I think that it might have a chance.”

Sitting with Netanyahu in the Oval Office afterwards, Trump predicted that the Palestinians will “ultimately” come round to giving their support. “They probably won’t want it initially. I think in the end they will,” he said. “I think in the end they’re going to want it. It’s very good for them. In fact, it’s overly good to them. So we’ll see what happens. Now without them, we don’t do the deal. And that’s okay.”

If no peace deal can be achieved, he said, “life goes on.”
Ambassador Danny Ayalon on Trump's Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan
Israel's former Ambassador to the USA and former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, discuss expectations for President Trump's Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan with Michelle Makori.

Trump Deal of the Century's Announcement Tonight and the Impact on Israeli Elections
Fascinating deep dive with Israeli political consultant Jeremy Saltan. You don't want to miss this!

David Singer: Gantz Faces Moment of Truth after meeting Trump
The pressure will well and truly be on Gantz the moment he finally emerges from the White Housewith Netanyahu and Trump to face a White House press conference to discuss the details of Trump’s deal.

Netanyahu will have no choice but to accept Trump’s plan with thanks and a great deal of appreciation – even though it might not be totally acceptable to the Right-wing parties supporting him.

Gantz cannot accept the terms of the Trump plan since he will alienate those Left-wing parties who favour Israel relinquishing all or most of the disputed territories. If he wants to have any hope of becoming Israel’s next Prime Minister, Gantz will need to clearly differentiate his policies from Netanyahu on the disputed territories.

The optics of Gantz rejecting Trump’s specific proposals in front of the world’s media will not make a pretty picture. Trying to graciously accept Trump’s proposals – subject to negotiations between Israel and the PLO or the international community – will stand starkly against Netanyahu grabbing the baton and running with Trump’s proposals to take advantage of an opportunity to resolve the future of a major part of Judea and Samaria for the first time in the last 100 years – some might even say 3000 years.

The battle lines for the March Israeli election will be played out in the White House.

Netanyahu could be pulling off another election win.

Gantz hails Trump’s peace plan, says he’ll work to implement it after elections
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Monday met with US President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss the administration’s forthcoming peace proposal. He called the plan historic, and promised to work to implement it — along with other regional players, and after the March 2 Israeli elections.

It was Gantz’s first sit-down with the US leader. The meeting was highly unusual, as Americans presidents almost never meet opposition leaders from foreign countries. Earlier on Monday, Trump also hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a meeting. Unlike with Netanyahu, Trump did not speak to the press together with Gantz.

Addressing reporters in his Washington hotel afterwards, Gantz said his Oval Office sit-down with Trump was “important and exceptional,” and praised the president as a “true and courageous friend” of Israel.

“We discussed matters of the utmost importance to Israel’s future and security, the details of which I will not disclose for the time being,” he said, flanked by Israeli and American flags in Washington’s posh Jefferson hotel, about two hours after the meeting concluded.

“The Trump administration’s peace plan is a significant and historic milestone indeed,” Gantz said, first in Hebrew and then in English. “Immediately after the elections, I will work toward implementing it from within a stable, functioning Israeli government, in tandem with the other countries in our region.”
Gantz adviser compares Trump to Hitler
A series of old tweets have come to haunt Benny Gantz adviser Ronen Tzur.

Although Blue and White leader Gantz seemed to have a pleasant meeting with US President Donald Trump on Monday, his close advisor certainly doesn’t hold Trump in high esteem.

In one 2017 tweet, Tzur compared Trump to Hitler saying, "Barack Hussein Obama is out, Donald Adolf Trump is in. Dying to know who’s next."

The year before, he sang a similar tune, writing, "Trump’s next book: Mein Trumpf."

And in 2018, on a variation of the theme he tweeted: "Two approaches to leadership now clashing fiercely: Obama and Clinton’s psychological approach and Trump and Putin’s psychopathic approach."
Why Trump is releasing his peace plan now
Netanyahu’s goals

Netanyahu believes that releasing the massive diplomatic initiative to the public ahead of the elections will achieve several goals. First, he can safely assume that it will be the peace proposal and not the immunity debate which will dominate Israel’s news cycle on Tuesday and throughout the run-up to the March 2 election.

More importantly, the prime minister believes that the initiative will expose Gantz as an inexperienced and less capable statesman, an area where Netanyahu has thrived in his 13 years as prime minister. He is hopeful that Israelis will recognize the tangible opportunity now before the nation, and that voters will choose to have the most capable and experienced leader steering the country during what will likely be a protracted peace process in which several unknowns will need to be safely navigated.

Netanyahu is also hopeful that Gantz’s own willingness to work with Trump on a peace formulation will create a schism within Blue and White. Several Blue and White members hope to see an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and remain committed to an Oslo paradigm, which is now about to be formally shattered in favor of Israeli sovereignty in much of the disputed territories.

And at the same time, Gantz’s willingness to entertain the same Trump peace proposal supported by Netanyahu will put Blue and White at odds with the left-wing parties it needs to form any coalition that excludes Netanyahu’s Likud.
Nikki Haley: No. 1 Priority of U.S. Peace Plan Is Israel's Security
Former US ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley spoke at the Israel Center on Addictions event in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Monday evening, the event that instigated her visit to Israel, where she said that "The number one priority" of the "Deal of the Century" is "the national security of Israel."

"It is a plan that is doable. You deserve peace," she added. "I can tell you that Jared Kushner put a lot of time into it. It was very, very thoughtful."

Haley went on to insist that there is no danger of surrounding Arab countries such as Jordan cancelling their peace agreements with Israel. "The reason why I have hope is: Yes, the Palestinians have said they are not going to come to the table... but if the Arab countries don't run to the Palestinian side, they may see that they don't have the backing that they had before. Watch what the Arab countries do."

"When the [PA] realizes that they don't have the backing they think they have, I think we might see a shift," she concluded.
Jewish Twitter eagerly awaits details regarding Trump peace plan
With less than three hours to go before the "Deal of the Century" is finally revealed, pundits are like kids on Christmas eve clamoring to open their presents and see what's inside.

What will the plan entail? Who really knows. We'll probably be all the wiser this evening.

In the meantime, here's what Jewish Twitter thinks is in store.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, basically tweeted that anything can happen and nobody really knows anything.

Journalist Michele Chabin weighs in, saying the plan is basically DOA before we even know what's in it:

Not surprisingly, the group IfNotNow is reacting as if the plan is the dawn of the apocalypse.
Why Jordan Won’t Impede the US Peace Plan
Jordan has been a strategic partner of Israel for many years, even before the 1994 peace treaty was signed. The main reason for this is their common enemy: the Palestinian national movement.

Israel and Jordan share various common interests, including support for US presence in the region, opposing pan-Arab and pan-Islamic nationalist movements, and, of course, fighting the rise of radical Islam, Sunni or Shiite. Amman also sees eye to eye with Jerusalem on the issue of the Iranian threat.

Israel assists Jordan in deterring extremists from threatening it, while Israel, for its part, sees Jordan as a buffer state between it and the extremist entities east of the Hashemite kingdom.

Jordan is certainly not interested in a neighboring political entity that could develop into another Hamas-controlled enclave a la the Gaza Strip. Israeli military control of the Jordan Valley is convenient for Jordan, as it protects Amman from the west. This was also the case when Israel ruled the Jordan Valley exclusively, before the second phase of the Oslo Accords was implemented in 1995, which defined this area as “Area C.”

It should be noted that Jordan did not use Israel’s control over the unified Jerusalem as a pretext not to sign a peace deal; all it asked for was to retain its position as the custodian of the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount.
Arab world not following PA’s lead - analysis
In formulating their responses, the Sunni Arab governments with close relations with the Washington – who want US assistance in helping them deal with the Iranian threat – will need to walk a fine line between their interest in not antagonizing the administration and in needing to placate their publics, which are sure to follow the lead of the Palestinian Authority in rejecting the plan outright.

But the lack of reactions from these states to the details that have leaked out about the plan so far is an indication that the Arab governments will be careful not to reject it as categorically as the Palestinians would want.

Abdullah’s formulation about a “glass half full” is likely to be the way some will travel.

His position was supported and explained in an editorial in The Jordan Times last week by Amer Al Sabaileh. The columnist’s words are interesting, considering the strong anti-Israel sentiment that exists inside Jordan.

Sabaileh noted approvingly Abdullah’s interview on France 24, writing that the king adopted “a new approach of tackling the issue of the peace process, where there was no rejection of plans that are currently on the table and kept open the option of a solution in the future.”
Why the U.S. Peace Plan Is Causing Barely a Ripple in Arab World
The Palestinian cause has been the lifeblood of Arab leaders, inspired countless poems and songs, been the subject of entire school textbooks, and was a factor in three regional wars.

It once united peoples from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula more than even the Arabic language itself.

Yet as the Trump administration is set to unveil a one-sided peace deal potentially legitimizing the Israeli annexation of lands Arabs across the region once vowed to die for, something has happened to Arab support for Palestinian nationalism.

A change in calculations and priorities by Arab leaders, coupled with the wariness with which young Arabs view their own governments, has muddled the message on Palestinian statehood.

Just as startling as the suddenness of announcing President Donald Trump’s long-promised peace plan, the details of which he is expected to release Tuesday, is the collective shoulder shrug in the Arab world.

Gulf Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have emerged over the past decade as the leading political and economic forces in the region, have been silent. So too Egypt, whose battles for Palestinian statehood in the 1960s and ’70s defined its post-independence identity.

Perhaps tellingly, as Palestinians braced over the weekend, the two largest regional satellite networks, Qatar’s Al Jazeera and the Saudi Al Arabiya, focused their coverage on the Jeff Bezos phone hacking scandal – with Qatar pushing the story implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Al Arabiya exonerating him.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians fear some Arabs might accept Trump's plan
Palestinians on Monday expressed concern that some Arab states may accept US President Donald Trump’s upcoming plan for Mideast peace, notwithstanding strong Palestinian opposition to the deal.

Palestinian officials in Ramallah said they were already worried by the failure of some Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and other Gulf emirates, to “fully endorse” the Palestinian stance against Trump’s plan. The response of these Arab countries to Trump’s previous policies and decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they noted, has not risen to the level of Palestinian expectations.

The officials said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to hold a series of “emergency meetings” of PLO and Fatah leaders in the coming days, including one Tuesday evening, to discuss the repercussions of Trump’s plan and ways of “rallying Arab support for the Palestinian position.”

“There’s growing fear in Ramallah that countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt are not opposed to Trump’s plan,” a Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post. “The Palestinians are worried that some of the Arab leaders will leave them to face the Trump administration on their own.”
Abbas: Trump is a dog and the son of a dog, I won't become a traitor
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas commented on Monday regarding US President Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century" that "Trump is a dog and the son of a dog," Fatah officials confirmed.

"They called me from Washington and I did not pick up the phone," Abbas said. "I said no and I will continue to say no... We are going for difficult days and we are beginning to bear the consequences of the refusal. Resistance must be escalated at all points of friction. All young people must be encouraged."

Abbas further claimed that "I was told I'll pay a heavy price for my foolish behavior. I do not have much longer to live and I will not go down as a traitor. It's either dying like martyrs or flying the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem."

Turning to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, Abbas said that whoever wants to help is welcome.
Chief PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat Attempts to Peddle Misinformation on CNN
And when Erekat denounced any peace proposal as “a fraud and a hoax” because the U.S. government recognized the legality of settlements and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (in other words, any peace proposal that doesn’t embrace Palestinian demands in their entirety must be boycotted), the CNN interviewer pointed out:

With respect, sir, by rejecting outright or out of hand whatever the substance of this political part of this deal is, surely the argument goes that Donald Trump will simply greenlight Israeli annexation of the area in dispute, which quite frankly will do the Palestinians absolutely no good whatsoever.

In fact, it has been reported that the US president made several attempts to contact Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss a peace proposal, but was refused each time. A high-ranking Palestinian official told the Turkish Anadolu news agency that Abbas rejected several attempted calls by the President in the past few days before he planned to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of the rival Blue and White party Benny Gantz.

This would mark the 100th year of consistent Palestinian rejection of proposed peace with the Israelis, starting with the 1920 San Remo Conference’s acceptance of the Mandate to create a national Jewish state in the Jewish ancestral homeland of Israel, becoming Mandatory Palestine. CAMERA has long reported on the media’s ignoring or justifying Palestinian rejectionism (see, for example, here, here, here and here.). Hopefully, CNN’s willingness to point out to the futility of Palestinian rejectionism marks the beginning of more truthful and accurate reporting about the quest for peace.
Hamas to join Palestinian leadership meeting against Trump plan – officials
Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah will join forces Tuesday in a rare meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah against US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited peace plan, Palestinian officials said.

“We invited the Hamas movement to attend the emergency meeting of the leadership and they will take part in the meeting,” senior Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmed said.

Nasser al-Din al-Shaar, who is considered close to Hamas, confirmed he would attend the meeting, which all Palestinian factions were invited to.

“The meeting will discuss the position that must be taken [against] Trump’s plan,” Shaar said.

The Islamist Hamas, which rules Gaza, has been at odds with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement for years, with Hamas representatives rarely taking part in meetings of the West Bank-based Palestinian leadership.
ICC gives Israel, Palestinians until March to respond to war crime charges
The International Criminal Court Pretrial Chamber on Tuesday gave Israel and the Palestinians until March 16 to respond to war crimes allegations directed at them by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

Bensouda then will have until March 30 to rebut any submissions by Israel and the Palestinians.

Third parties can also file briefs by February 14.

The ICC's order did not give a schedule for when it will rule on the war crimes issue.

Bensouda's December 20 decision to recognize a Palestinian state and to move forward against both Israel and Hamas led to outcries of bias from Israel and a campaign to isolate the ICC, while it led to praise from the Palestinian Authority.

In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Bensouda did reveal that she has not decided if she will seek war crimes charges against the IDF and that any war crimes charges she seeks against Israelis relating to the settlement enterprise will only relate to settlements built after June 2014.

The PA itself limited its complaints against Israel to the post June-2014 period.

However, Israel still views prosecuting settlements as a war crime as a massive show of bias since it appears to ignore UN Security Council Resolution 242's framework that Israel and the Palestinians need to resolve their own border disputes.
Netanyahu indicted for corruption in three cases, in first for a sitting prime minister
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday filed the indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust with the Jerusalem District Court.

“The indictment was filed a short time ago… as is required by law,” Mandelblit’s office said.

The move marks the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister will face criminal charges, casting a heavy shadow over Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, his legacy and his ongoing attempts to remain in power.

Responding to Mandelblit’s decision, “sources close to the prime minister” accused the attorney general of conducting a witch hunt against Netanyahu, a Likud spokesperson said in a statement.

“If anyone still had any doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the target of obsessive persecution, he was now given further clear and sharp proof,” the sources were quoted as saying. “The eagerness to file the unfounded indictment against the prime minister is so great that they could not wait even one day until after the historic summit in Washington, one of the most important in the history of the state.”
PM to make impromptu Moscow trip, raising speculation jailed Israeli to be freed
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Moscow for a previously unannounced trip to update Russian President Vladimir Putin “on regional developments and the Deal of the Century,” following his meeting at the White House.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu will depart from Washington on Wednesday and instead of returning to Israel, he will fly to Russia to meet with Putin.

The prime minister is in Washington for the release of US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The PMO statement came less than an hour after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment against Netanyahu for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust with the Jerusalem District Court.

Speculation abounded that Netanyahu’s trip may herald the release of jailed Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar.
IDF arrests man suspected of sneaking into Israel from Lebanon
Israeli troops on Tuesday arrested a man who appeared to have crossed into Israel from Lebanon, the military said.

The suspect was found near the Bedouin village of Arab al-Aramshe, near the Lebanese border.

“IDF troops, working with the Israel Police and [Shin Bet], were called to the scene and are interrogating the suspect at the scene. It appears the suspect crossed the border from Lebanese territory into Israeli territory,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

It added that the suspect was unarmed, and that the circumstances of the incident appear to not be related to terror, without elaborating.

In September, Israeli security forces prevented a large number of weapons from being smuggled into Israel from Lebanon, when lookouts spotted two suspects near the Lebanese border and units that rushed to the scene found two large bags with 39 different types of handguns inside.
Despite approval in Israel, Saudi Arabia says Israelis can’t visit country
Israeli citizens are not allowed to come to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s foreign minister announced Monday, after the Jewish state said it gave its citizens the green light to visit.

Israel’s interior ministry on Sunday said Israeli citizens, both Muslims and Jews, have the right to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious and business visits.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told CNN that Israelis are not welcome at the moment in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites.

“Our policy is constant. We don’t have relations with Israel and holders of Israeli passports cannot visit the kingdom for now,” he said, according to CNN’s Arabic website.
PMW: Here's what hate looks like: PA Antisemitism on PA TV
Hear how the PA disseminates Jew-hatred to adults and children through its official PA TV and Fatah Facebook. Children learn poems of hate and adults are taught Jews endanger humanity and therefore Allah must “kill them one by one - do not leave even one.”


Yesterday, eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Palestinian Media Watch released a special report on Palestinian Authority Antisemitism, detailing the different components of PA antisemitic ideology:
- The PA teaches that Jews think they are superior to others, but are in fact are inferior.
- The PA teaches that Jews are Satan’s partner spreading evil in the world and that evil is inherent in Jewish genes.
- PA Antisemitism blames Jews for all bad in the world;
- PA conclusion: It is natural that the Jews be hated and in fact, Jews brought Antisemitism on themselves throughout history, including the Holocaust.
- Ultimately, the PA teaches, the killing of Jews is Allah’s will and their extermination is necessary so all of humanity can live in peace.
Palestinian Authority Antisemitism Creates Antisemitic Palestinians

Thousands of Gazans protest Trump peace plan hours before its release
Thousands of Palestinians protested throughout the Gaza Strip on Tuesday ahead of the release of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan later in the day.

In Gaza City, the protesters burned pictures of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and raised a banner reading “Palestine is not for sale.”

During the rally, the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, expressed rare support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement, welcoming his call for a broad meeting of Palestinian factions.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said Hamas and “all the factions” would join the meeting, planned for after the Trump plan is announced. He said: “When we are united, neither Netanyahu nor Trump dare to take away our rights.”

The Islamic Jihad terror group also announced it would attend the meeting with Abbas, who has boycotted the US administration and refused to look at the US proposal.

Similar protests were held elsewhere in the Gaza Strip Tuesday, including in Rafah, the Bureij refugee camp, and in at least three points along the border with Israel.
In rare public criticism, Hamas official says group botched bid to court West
A mid-level Hamas official recently spoke out against the terror group in a rare public criticism, arguing a policy document it issued almost over two years ago seeking to broadcast a more moderate image, failed to open doors to the West.

Ahmad Yousif, who was an adviser to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh when he served as Palestinian Authority prime minister, is considered to be a moderate figure in the terror group.

In May 2017, Hamas published a document declaring that its fight was not against Jews but rather Zionists; it also called for the “full and complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea,” but described the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, with the return of refugees to Israel, to be “a formula of national consensus.”

Yousif contended that the Hamas policy document came out “late” and that “no one paid attention to it.”

“The changes were big,” Yousif told the Independent Arabia news site in an interview published last week, referring to the document.

“But the West did not deal with it. The reason is Hamas itself — because it was late in announcing it,” he said, stating it should have been published in 2006, when Hamas briefly led the PA government, rather than 2017.

Iran's Lobbyists and Agents in the West
Recently, three Republican senators, Ted Cruz (TX), Tom Cotton (AK) and Mike Braun (IN) have called on the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

According to the Iranian American Forum: "Some of these documents are posted here and reveal NIAC's relation and collaboration with Iranian officials and business interests inside Iran. They show that NIAC coordinated its lobby with the Iranian ambassador to the UN to influence the US policy with Iran."

Why do those who may lobby for the mullahs attempt to fly under the radar, act less conspicuously and fail to register?

Now is the time for the US and other Western governments to investigate and closely watch those who beat the drum for the anti-American and anti-Israeli Islamic Republic of Iran.
U.S. Builds Several New Bases in Iraq near Iran
The U.S is building at least three semi-permanent new bases very close to the Iranian border in northern Iraq, Israeli sources said.

The U.S. plans to establish one military base near the city of Sulimania, another near the city of Halabja, 14 km. from the Iranian border, and a third south of Erbil province.

Prof. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, said the U.S. realized "they have to keep a real presence and they are doing it by building bases in the Kurdish areas."
Iran Lawmakers Call for Debate on Quitting Nuclear Arms Treaty
A group of Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday asked parliament to debate a motion for Iran to quit a treaty governing global nuclear arms control, a move apparently aimed at pressuring European powers to salvage Tehran's own 2015 nuclear deal.

A report on the assembly's news site ICANA said a minimum number of MPs had signed a request to parliament's managers to arrange a debate on the motion for Iran to take the far-reaching step of leaving the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last week that Iran could withdraw from the NPT if European countries refer the country to the U.N. Security Council over the 2015 deal, a move that would overturn diplomacy in Tehran's turbulent relations with Western powers.

Lawmakers in the past have sometimes withdrawn their signatures seeking debates on motions about nuclear and other issues.
MEMRI: Pro-Iran And Iran-Backed Elements In Iraq Deny Any Responsibility For Attacks On U.S. Targets
On January 27, 2020, Iraqi security sources reported that a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had wounded one American and caused damage to property. The attack, the first of many in recent weeks that actually struck the Embassy, came two days after a massive anti-U.S. march organized by the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and by Iraqi populist Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr aimed at ending the U.S. military presence in the country.

Following the rocket attack and in an attempt to defuse any possible U.S. military response targeting them or their camps, and to further protect Iran from similar attacks, the Iraqi PMU commanders, along with other Iran-backed political leaders, denied any link to an "operation" against U.S targets, saying that such a "reckless" act would only undermine the Iraqi government's efforts of de-escalation in the aftermath of the U.S. drone strike that killed IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi PMU deputy commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

This report will examine reactions by the PMU, its affiliates, and pro-Iran Iraqi leaders and Iran-backed forces to the rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy:

PMU: 'We Have Nothing To Do With It'
The same day, Abu Ali Al-Basri, a senior leader in the PMU, said that "the group that attacked the U.S Embassy in Baghdad" represents only itself and that the PMU does not claim responsibility for any operation [of this kind]." He added: "Some parties are trying to drag the PMU into this case without providing any evidence."

He went on to say that the PMU fighters are showing a high level of discipline, noting: "We have meetings with them [PMU fighters] to provide them with instructions. There is a high level of coordination between the PMU and [the Iraqi] security apparatus, and we are keen to maintain that, as like we were instructed by the martyr Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis."[1]
Iranian media: CIA agent behind Soleimani killing shot down in Afghanistan
Iranian media claims that “many CIA” officers were killed in a plane crash on Monday. The Taliban initially claimed large numbers of Americans were killed, while Russian media and Iranian media then asserted that a senior CIA officer responsible for killing IRGC general Qasem Soleimani was on board. The claim has been greeted with skepticism.

Michael D’Andrea’s name began to appear in Farsi media in the wake of the Soleimani killing when articles at Mehr News and Radio Farda claimed he was involved in planning the US operation. Later on January 27 his name appeared again in rumors after the plane crash. There are many who might have an interest in spreading conspiracies about the Taliban downing high ranking US intelligence officers, nevertheless Iran’s Tasnim ran with the story quoting Russian sources that said the “assassin of Soleimani was on the plane and killed in the crash.” It claims that “Andrea is the most prominent figure in the US CIA in the Middle East. He has been in charge of operations in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.”

The Taliban was quoted as saying they had shot down the plane. Tasnim refers to Andrea as “Ayatollah Mike” and “the Prince of Darkness,” relying on old US newspaper clippings. Press TV of Iran has also included the report, claiming top CIA officers were killed and repeating rumors about Andrea. But the original reports from the Taliban only spoke of a plane being shot down and some CIA members allegedly being on it. The US says that an American E-11A plane was shot down in Ghazni province. Ghazni is around 900 km from the Iranian border.

Linking its downing to the Soleimani killing would be a major development and appear to show that Iran is active in Afghanistan with the Taliban, a claim that has been made in the past. Iran watches US movements in Afghanistan carefully and has met with the Taliban recently. Iran has also tried to down US drones that stray near Iran’s border.

While Idlib burns, Turkey pushes Syrians to fight its war in Libya
Turkey is pushing a new “road map” for Libya, focusing on a conflict 1,000 km from Ankara, while a few kilometers from Turkey’s border refugees are being driven from their homes in Idlib by a Moscow-backed Syrian offensive. It is part of the Turkey’s new policy of sending Syrian rebels to fight in Libya so that Ankara can receive rights to exclusive energy exploration off the coast of North Africa. In exchange the Syrian regime appears to have received a free hand to bomb Syrian rebels in Idlib into submission.

On Tuesday Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on an Africa tour that has seen him travel to Algeria and then Gambia to discuss Turkey’s growing footprint in Africa and his desire to take over the Libyan conflict. Libya is in the midst of an none-year civil war. One side is led by Khalifa Haftar, an aging general who controls most of Libya. The other is run by the Tripoli-based embattled and weak government that claims UN backing. Haftar is backed by Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Turkey recently signed a deal with Tripoli and has been sending drones, armored vehicles and now paying Syrian rebels to fight as mercenaries in Libya, in exchange for the Tripoli government giving Turkey a deal in the Mediterranean. Turkey wants to get rights to an exclusive economic zone that overlaps with Greek and Cyprus claims in the Mediterranean.

How Turkey achieves its goals is by offering a few of its solders to train Tripoli's forces and send the same Syrian rebels Turkey was recently using to fight Kurds in eastern Syria. Since 2017 Turkey has hijacked the Syrian rebel cause and used them to fight its wars, while working with Russia to get S-400s and sell out the Syrian opposition to the Syrian regime in exchange for Russian military hardware and other bits and pieces of northern Syria. Turkey’s goal last year was to destroy the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces by forcing the US to withdraw from parts of northern Syria. Turkey argues that the SDF is linked to the Kurdish PKK which it calls terrorists and as such it wants the “terrorists” removed from its border. It wants to replace them with a mostly Sunni Arab Syrian buffer, but taking Syrian rebels from Idlib and refugees from Turkey and inserting them into formerly Kurdish-run areas like Afrin or Tel Abyad. That stokes Kurdish-Arab tensions and gives Ankara power.

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