Monday, February 10, 2020

02/10 Links Pt1: PA withdraws its request for UN vote on Trump peace plan; Israeli Arabs are Israeli, not Palestinian; US envoy explains deal’s asymmetry: We trust Israel, but PA can’t keep a bargain

From Ian:

Abbas’ Palestinian Authority Hurts Everybody
By perpetuating the conflict, the Palestinian Authority also forces international donor countries to indefinitely waste their taxpayers’ money on supporting terror and incitement against Israel, financing P.A. corruption, and eternalizing the Palestinian refugee problem. Moreover, it forces the international community to adopt its false narrative, such as ignoring the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 and in several UNESCO resolutions, mutating basic historical facts that are central not only to Jewish history but to Western history as a whole into historically illiterate gibberish.

The United States has tried hard in recent years to put an end to this unacceptable situation. It has cut economic aid to the Palestinian Authority due to its payment of salaries to terrorists, stopped financial support to UNRWA, and closed the PLO office in Washington. The United States also defied the P.A. narrative by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and by clarifying that Israeli settlements are not illegal. It is hard to overstate the importance of these moves, all of which came in response to the P.A.’s abject failures.

The Trump administration’s new peace plan signals clearly that this Palestinian Authority has to be replaced with a P.A. that first and foremost cares about the well-being of its citizens and respects their rights, fights corruption, and has well-functioning institutions. It has to be replaced by a P.A. that disarms Hamas and thereafter is able to govern the Gaza Strip. It has to be replaced with a P.A. that has a narrative of peace and is ready to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It has to be replaced by a P.A. that fights terror, stops the “Pay-for-Slay” policy, and ends incitement and hate indoctrination at home and abroad. And ultimately, it has to be replaced by a P.A. that respects the outstanding readiness of the Arabs and the international community to support it and rises to their expectations. If this cultural change takes place, the new P.A. will turn into an independent state and will be provided with an abundance of new resources.

Unlike any previous peace plans, this new plan tells the Palestinian Authority that if it does not choose to change in the coming four years, the United States, Israel, and the pragmatic Arabs are not going to wait any longer and will not enable the P.A. to have veto power over their will to move forward for the good of Palestinians, Israelis, and the entire region. Time is ticking.

The P.A. has grown used to being spoiled by those it hurts. As Mahmoud Abbas revealed in his address to the Arab League foreign affairs ministers, previous American administrations spoiled the Palestinians so much that, in spite of the P.A.’a refusal to accept President Barack Obama’s peace plan after it was presented to Abbas in March 2014 (he replied that any Palestinian compromise is impossible), the Obama administration was still the driving force behind UNSCR 2334. This resolution defined all the territories as occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem with the Temple Mount and Wailing Wall, and declared Israeli settlements illegal. No more.

The U.S. peace plan marks a paradigm shift in the American approach to the Palestinian Authority. Will this P.A. change? Chances are slim, but only time will tell. One thing we know already—the paradigm that was adopted until now, which was largely based on willful blindness, did not yield the expected fruits. Let us hope that this new paradigm, which is based on the realities on the ground, will help heal the wounds that this P.A. has inflicted on its many victims—Palestinians, Israelis, moderate Arabs, and international donor countries whose money has been spent on murder and hate—and help us build a road to peace.
Israeli Arabs are Israeli, not Palestinian
The raising of Palestinian flags in protest against the "Deal of the Century deal" and the proposal to transfer sovereignty over the Triangle (a cluster of Arab towns and cities near the Green Line) to a future Palestinian state has caused a small yet familiar storm.

Many Jews, and indeed quite a few Arabs, have asked how it is possible to wave the flag of the Palestinian Authority while resisting falling under its sovereignty.

I am positive that there is not one Arab citizen of Israel who wants to live under the control of any Arab ruler in any Arab state, including the State of Palestine.

In Arab society, there is even a saying that "Israeli Jewish hell is better than the paradise of the Arab states."

Yes, the Arab states have civil equality among its residents, but you will not find liberty and or freedom of speech.

There is neither human dignity nor liberty nor a high court of justice.

An Israeli Arab who is used to demonstrating and yelling in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv against the policy of the government and those who lead it would not be able to do that - and survive – in Damascus or any of the Gulf states.

The reign of eternal tyrants in Arab nations is as far removed from the experiences of Israeli Arabs as we are from the Stone Age.

Raising the Palestinian flag during the protests against the Trump plan was an act of identification, not identity.

PMW: After PMW's exposure: TikTok removes video glorifying four actual terror attacks
Last Wednesday, Palestinian Media Watch exposed that a user of the social network TikTok had posted a video animation glorifying four lethal terror attacks that were committed against Israelis. PMW is pleased to report that TikTok responded immediately and removed the terror glorifying video.

The following is PMW’s original bulletin exposing the terror promotion:
Animated video of real murder of Israelis
- on social network popular among children

An animated video that encourages murdering Israelis by showing graphic recreated scenes of real terror attacks has appeared on TikTok – a social network popular among children, where users can create and share short videos.

The video shows four lethal terror attacks that were committed against Israelis – a terrorist who rammed his car into Israelis at a Jerusalem light rail station, another who shot at Israeli police, and two stabbers. An eagle – possibly symbolizing the eagle in the emblem used by the Palestinian Authority and the PLO – flies above the carnage throughout the video, at one point moving in unison with 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist Muhannad Halabi as he stabs a religious Jew in the Old City of Jerusalem. The video carries the text “Jerusalem is the dread of the Jews," followed by a red heart.

The following are screenshots from the animation paired with details of the Palestinian terrorists and the attacks they apparently portray:

PA withdraws its request for UN vote on Trump peace plan - report
The Palestinian Authority has request to delay a UN vote on the Trump administration's peace plan, multiple Israeli media outlets reported on Monday evening.

The US broke its silence on Sunday evening and suggested amendments for the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution regarding the Trump administration's peace plan, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

While the exact wording is still under consideration, a vote is expected to take place on Tuesday. A person familiar with the discussions told the Post that the US is willing to support a resolution that aims to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to negotiations. It's not clear if the suggested amendments will be added to the text. In the event that Tunisia and Indonesia do not adopt the American comments, the US Mission to the UN is expected to veto it.

According to a source familiar with the discussions between the US, Tunisia, and other members of the UNSC, criticism against the US has softened, and "there is a desire to avoid promoting a resolution that will vetoed."

The softening of the language comes after Jared Kushner's briefing with UNSC members on Thursday. Kushner was accompanied by Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook. The source added that "there are numerous countries who are considering abstaining" if the wording is not changed.

A US administration official told the Post, "the international community has shown a desire to see the two parties negotiate and realizes that now is not the time for resolutions that won't advance the cause of peace. The US would like to have a resolution that encourages the sides to negotiate, instead of a one that simply criticizes one side."
Palestinians: After Inciting Violence, Abbas Comes to New York To Fight a Peace Plan
"Other stateless people can only dream of being offered independence and $50bn by the US president.... If only the Yazidis or Baluchis or Kurds or Rohingya Muslims were so lucky." – Tom Gross, January 29, 2020.

The plan... offers the Palestinians most of the land captured by Israel in 1967 that more than doubles their territory; a government with realized human rights and institutions of democracy, such as a free press, and $50 billion -- all as part of an extraordinary opportunity to build a flourishing Palestinian State.

Incredibly, Palestinian leaders seem to believe that no one understands that it is their own incitement that is instigating violence, not a peace plan yet to be implemented.

Abbas has no peace plan. That is probably why he is now hoping that the violence he incited will force Israel and the US to surrender even greater concessions to the Palestinians.

It now remains to be seen whether the Security Council and the international community will demand an end to continued Palestinian terrorism and rejection. Failure to do so will only allow Abbas and Hamas to proceed with their long-standing scheme of inciting their people to pursue terrorism every time they are offered a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israelis in ‘diplomatic blitz’ ahead of UN Security Council vote
Israelis at the UN are in the midst of a “diplomatic blitz” ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Tuesday speech and a possible vote on a draft resolution condemning the US peace plan and settlement annexation.

The US intended to veto the resolution, while other countries considered abstaining from the vote as of Monday morning.

Tunisia and Indonesia, the countries that submitted the draft, softened the wording such that it does not say that the UN Security Council “strongly regrets that the plan presented…by the United States and Israel breaches international law.”

Rather, the new draft leaves out the US and “notes that the initiative…in relation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict departs from the internationally endorsed terms of reference and parameters for the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to this conflict as enshrined in the relevant United Nations resolutions.”

It still says that “annexation of any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem constitutes a breach of international law.”
Danny Danon to Olmert: Do not come to the UN to meet Mahmoud Abbas
After first delivering a peace proposal in 2008, Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas plan to hold a long overdue press conference Tuesday afternoon in New York concerning prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, instead of presenting two sides of a negotiated political process, both will be presenting the Palestinian side.

Ehud Olmert – Israeli, former mayor of Jerusalem, former prime minister of Israel – will be sitting on the side of the Palestinian leader, the very same day that Abbas continues to incite violence against Israelis at home and isolate Israel abroad.

Ehud, do not come to the United Nations.

Even before US President Donald Trump unveiled his “Deal of the Century” at a White House press conference, Mahmoud Abbas was already angling to come to New York to condemn it before the United Nations Security Council. Despite not knowing its contents, Abbas’ immediate reaction was to cast it aside.

Such is the temperament and action of a “leader.” Instead of even entertaining a path to peace and prosperity, Abbas remains adamant about committing his people to a future of rejectionism and terrorism. For sixteen years, he has preferred to grandstand for the cameras with futile theatrics at the UN than to sit with Israel in direct negotiations.
Will Palestinians lose UNSC vote but gain in PR battle against US?
The battle for votes is likely to persist until the matter comes for debate before the UNSC Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST.

But even if the resolution fails, the Palestinians walk away from with a number of wins.

That is because the UN gives the Palestinians a stage in front of the international community, in which they can act with all the appearance of a state because they have a non-member rights at the UN.

The first victory for the PA will be the speech President Mahmoud Abbas is slated to deliver to the UNSC on Tuesday. It’s a high-level forum in which he has rarely appeared.

Failure to pass an anti-Israeli resolution at the UNSC will also almost assuredly mean that they will go to the UN General Assembly, and there it does not necessarily need to be watered down. The UNGA has little power beyond that of a public relations show, but the Palestinians have an automatic majority in their favor at the UNGA.

Israel and the United States can only hope to walk away with what they call the support of the moral majority, that is a show of support by primarily Western countries. Israel will also look to measure the success of its Africa policy, by looking to see what African countries voted in its favor.

In the end, Israel and the US can tarnish, but not totally diminish, the power of the Palestinians at the UN.
Trump's plan and the 'apartheid' lie
No legal norm in Judea and Samaria practices any clear discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians based on their ethnicity and with forethought to discriminate. To the extent that there are legal differences, they do not discriminate in essence and in practice, and they arise only from the different legal status of the two populations.

True, from time to time, the rights of Palestinians living in these territories are infringed upon, but this violation is always proportionate, it stems from security needs and it is subject to oversight by the High Court of Justice.

The Trump administration's "deal of the century" suggests allowing Palestinians to establish a state in most of Judea and Samaria, in which they may not have full control over borders but they will have clear boundaries nonetheless, within which they will be given full rights to exercise sovereignty.

Despite this, the Palestinians and the critics of Trump's plan were quick to label it with the "scarlet letter" of apartheid.

They argue that the future Palestinian state envisioned in the Trump outline includes structured discrimination against the Palestinians because their territory will not be maximal and because the plan seeks to maintain Israel's security.

This time too, there is no bigger lie. After finally accepting responsibility for their fate and exercising their rights in the significant territory promised to them by the program, the Palestinians will have the full legal rights that a sovereign state can grant to its citizens, and it is hoped that their state constitution will also be given a central place in human rights.

Israel, however, will no longer rule them, and therefore it will not be able to apply any regime to them, certainly not apartheid.
NGO Monitor: Season 2, Episode 14: Prof. Steinberg's take on the Deal of the Century
Last week, President Trump released the Deal of the Century, his peace plan between the Israelis and Palestinians. Is it a realistic plan? What does Israel's treaty with Egypt teach us about negotiations with the Palestinians? How have NGOs framed the conflict and initiatives to solve it? Tune in to this week's episode with our host Yona Shiffmiller and NGO Monitor President Prof. Gerald Steinberg.
US envoy explains deal’s asymmetry: We trust Israel, but PA can’t keep a bargain
The White House’s so-called “Deal of the Century” strongly favors Israel because it is a democracy that can be relied upon to uphold any agreement, whereas the Palestinians have a long way to go before they are trustworthy partners, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Sunday.

Critics of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan often complain that it grants Israel the right to soon annex the parts of the West Bank that the proposal earmarks for Israel to retain, while the Palestinians would only get their state at the end of four years — and then, only if a long list of conditions have been meet.

If the plan is meant to eventually lead to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, why is one side allowed to take the spoils right away, while the other side has to wait four years, The Times of Israel asked Friedman during a briefing Sunday at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

In his answer, the US envoy spoke of the need to bridge the “asymmetry” between the State of Israel, which is a dependable ally, and what he described as the failed wannabe state that is the Palestinian Authority. He also argued that Jerusalem would have never have made the concessions it did upon accepting the plan’s outline — including agreeing not to build any new settlements in the areas designated for a future Palestinian state — if it had not been granted the right to quickly annex the parts envisioned to be part of Israel.
US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take part in an announcement of Trump’s Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

“This is a completely asymmetric relationship,” Friedman said of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “Israel is a democracy. You can hold it to its word. It has an enormous relationship with the United States on multiple levels and that relationship is very solid. It is in a position today to keep its part of the bargain.”

By contrast, the Palestinians are currently “not in a position to keep any bargain,” Friedman said. “The Palestinians are not united. Their government is not democratic. Their institutions are weak. Their respect for all types of norms that we hold dear — not just democracy but human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of the press — is nonexistent.”
Netanyahu: We want to annex settlements with US support, not without
Israel's best interest is served in annexing West Bank settlements with United States support and not without, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday as he made a campaign stop in the Jordan Valley.

“We have brought about an unequivocal statement from [US] President [Donald] Trump that he will recognize the application of our sovereignty on all our communities in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said.

“We are going to do this with the agreement of the Americans, because this can’t be a one-sided act. We want US consent and we have it,” Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister’s words and his visit are part of an intense campaign he has undertaken to walk back the damage done by having promised annexation prior to the March 2nd election on the premise that he had US support for such a move. The US has since asked Netanyahu to hold off until after the election, and he has agreed, even though he has come under heavy political pressure to move forward without US support.
Yair Lapid: No ‘unilateral’ annexation of Jordan Valley, settlements
Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid said that he and his party have “made clear we’re against unilateral steps” in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.
Speaking to members of the Foreign Press Association at a briefing on Monday, he said that if his party is elected to form a government on March 2 and succeeds, it would not immediately apply sovereignty to areas beyond the pre-1967 borders – even if the United States says that it can.

“This is a process and the Americans have made it clear that this is a process and expect all sides to look at it as part of the process,” Lapid said.

His statements came one after US ambassador to Israel David Friedman explained in a press conference that a six-member joint US-Israeli committee was in the process of being formed to delineate a comprehensive map in preparation for annexation.
US arranging meeting between Netanyahu and Saudi crown prince - report
Talks are being held between teams from Israel, the US, Egypt and Saudi Arabia on a potential summit in Cairo, whereby Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman could meet, according to a report in the Jewish News Syndicate.
The JNS report is based on senior Arab diplomatic sources.

The sources indicated that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his team have been mediating between representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia over the past few months to set up the meeting.

“In recent days there have been very intensive discussions between Washington, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to arrange a summit meeting in Cairo as early as the coming weeks, even before the election in Israel, which aside from the host, Egypt, will be attended by the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and also the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain and Oman,” one of the Arab sources told JNS.

The report further indicated that Jordan was also invited to attend the Cairo summit, but the invitation was declined by King Abdullah, who wanted to include Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Israel has allegedly agreed to the invitation.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian lawyers threaten to sue those who 'accept' Trump plan
Palestinian lawyers have launched an initiative to file lawsuits in the US and Europe against politicians and businessmen who accept US President Donald Trump's recently unveiled plan for Mideast peace.

The initiative comes on the eve of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s address to the UN Security Council, where he is expected to urge the international community to reject the Trump plan.

One of the lawyers behind the initiative, Gandhi Rubai, told official PA news agency Wafa that a number of lawyers volunteered to file cases to various international bodies, including the UN, against people who intend to cooperate with the Trump plan, called “Peace to Prosperity.”

He said cases will be filed against any company that is found to be involved in the implementation of the Trump deal by investing in settlements and the Jordan Valley.

“This initiative comes in the context of cases that were previously accepted in the US Federal Court against 200 businessmen investing in settlements that are considered illegal under international law,” Rubai told the news agency.

Issam Abdeen, head of Local and Regional Advocacy at the Ramallah-based human rights organization Al-Haq, said the lawyers’ initiative needs to be studied and based on a clear vision and methodology. The initiative, he said, also needs to be accompanied by a “wide-scale advocacy campaign.”

The head of the Palestinian Bar Association, Jawad Obeidat, said the lawsuits would be filed against those who accept or assist in the implementation of the Trump plan also as part of a Palestinian effort to lodge complaints against Israel with the International Criminal Court.

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan
Last week we looked at the impartiality of BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio coverage of the US Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan.

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

But did visitors to the BBC News website fare any better?

Below is a summary of the relevant content published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page between January 27th and January 30th – eleven items in all.

Many of the reports promote talking points also evident (including before anyone at the BBC had actually read the proposal) in BBC radio and television coverage:
- Description of the proposal as a “surrender document” for the Palestinians which does not meet their demands.
- Presentation of the document as fully meeting Israeli demands.
- Presentation of the timing of the launch of the document as being related to political and legal processes in the US and Israel.
- Amplification of the talking points of the PLO and political NGOs, including the ‘apartheid’ trope.
- Portrayal of the Palestinians as having no agency and predictions of ‘inevitable’ violence.
Gaza Balloons A Bursting Terror Problem
What kind of parent tells their child that they cannot play with balloons, kites, balls, or toy airplanes?

Either horrible, mean parents or loving, caring parents who happen to live in Israel near the Gaza Strip.

Why would caring parents instruct their children not to go near balloons, kites, and other toys? Because beginning in 2018, Palestinian terrorists began sending Gaza balloons and kites laden with explosives to harm Israelis, spark wild fires, and weaken Jewish morale.

Hamas has even established special units tasked with producing and launching them.

Literally thousands of hectares in southern Israel have been set ablaze by improvised incendiary devices from from Gaza. Many are made up of simple, commonly available balloons — made of rubber or latex, or even condoms — which are filled with helium. Then, burning rags or an explosive device are attached. Terror kites are made by simply tying several sticks together, covering them with a plastic sheet and attaching a mesh carrying fuel.

When the wind blows into Israel from Gaza, the balloons and kites are released. While most land in the vicinity of the Israel-Gaza border, one balloon landed in Beersheva, about 40 km from the Strip.

Some Gaza balloons have been designed to spark multiple fires by repeatedly drip fireballs as they float over Israel. Bomb disposal crews are frequently called to defuse explosives found attached to balloons and kites. In one incident, a rocket-propelled grenade warhead attached to balloons was found in a kibbutz field.

Between July and September 2018, Gaza balloons and kites sparked an average of 12 fires a day. The fires they triggered have caused terrible ecological damage to Israel – destroying over 6,000 acres of forests and farmland and killing massive amounts of wildlife. Experts say that the damage to the ecosystem will take a decade to repair.

IDF Pens Poem Teaching Kids to Keep Away from Gaza Bomb Balloons
The Israel Defense Forces' Home Front Command on Friday released a poem for children warning them against balloon-borne bombs from Gaza.

Titled "What does the wind bring with it?," the poem tells children to call an adult and run away if they see a suspicious object.

On Friday, at least five of these devices landed in southern Israel. Attached to colorful balloons, some of these explosive devices have been disguised as child-friendly objects like books and soccer balls.

Recent weeks have seen a marked increase in the launching of balloon-borne explosive devices, apparently at the direction of Hamas.

The past week also saw near-daily rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel.
Condition of Israeli Soldier Critically Wounded in Car-Ramming Attack Stabilizes
The condition of an Israeli soldier critically injured in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem on Thursday continues to improve, Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Sunday.

The soldier has reportedly been taken off a respirator and is currently breathing on his own. His condition is still listed as serious, but has stabilized.

The wounded serviceman, from the IDF’s elite Golani Brigade, was with a group of soldiers on their way to a swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall when they were struck by a car driven by Khaled al-Turman, 24, who was arrested later the same day.

There were no fatalities in the attack, in which 12 soldiers were injured, including the critically wounded soldier currently hospitalized at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital.

Several of the injured soldiers managed to attend the swearing-in ceremony later that day, and others watched a livestream of the event.

The car-ramming was followed by two shooting attacks, again causing no fatalities but rattling an already tense situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank following the recent release of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

Following his arrest, it was revealed that al-Turman had posted a video on his Facebook page in which he sang an ancient Islamic song with words referring to readiness for war.
3 Terror Attacks in Less than 15 Hours
This past Thursday Israelis suffered three terror attacks in under 15 hours. Yet the media minimized the victims and focused instead on the death of the attackers.

Israel accused of torturing Palestinian suspects in bombing that killed teen
One of the men was hospitalized with kidney failure and 11 broken ribs. Another was nearly unrecognizable to his wife when he was wheeled into a courtroom. A third was stitched up after being attacked by a security dog.

Then the three Palestinians were returned to their Israeli interrogators. They had been swept up in a sprawling manhunt launched after a roadside bomb killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl and wounded her father and brother as they hiked down to a spring last August in the West Bank.

The attack raised fears of a sophisticated terror cell that might strike again, and Israeli interrogators appear to have treated it as a ticking time-bomb scenario. Israeli and Palestinian rights groups say there is strong evidence that they tortured several detainees in violation of Israeli and international law.

The allegations against Israel are the most serious to come to light in years, and the rights groups say they point to a loosening of constraints two decades after the Supreme Court outlawed most forms of torture.

Lawyers and family members of the three main suspects say they were tortured to the point of being hospitalized. Several other Palestinians swept up by the Shin Bet internal security service say they were threatened, beaten, forced into painful stress positions and denied sleep.

A landmark 1999 Supreme Court ruling forbids such torture. But the law allows interrogators to defend the use of force when there is fear of an imminent attack.

Firebrand Arab Israeli cleric sentenced to 28 months for inciting terrorism
A prominent Arab Israeli Islamic cleric, convicted in November of incitement to terrorism over a 2017 speech in which he praised a deadly attack at the Temple Mount, was sentenced Monday to 28 months in prison.

The Haifa Magistrate’s Court sentenced Raed Salah, 61, whose most recent conviction came as he was serving a suspended sentence for a previous conviction of incitement, support for terrorism and public disturbance convictions.

He had been released from prison in 2017 after serving a nine-month sentence for incitement to violence and racism.

Salah, a former mayor of Umm al-Fahm and a leading Islamist ideologue in the Arab Israeli community, has repeatedly expressed support for “resistance” and warned his followers that Israel sought to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

The court on Monday granted him 11 months off the sentence for time served, for a total of 17 months behind bars. It also sentenced him to an 18 months’ suspended sentence to be served if he is convicted again.

He was arrested and charged two years ago for praising three Arab Israelis who shot dead two police officers in a July 2017 terror attack at the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City. The attack, and Israel’s ensuing decision to beef up security at the holy site, significantly ramped up tensions between Israel and the Arab world.
For the first time in months, Egyptian security delegation visits the Gaza Strip
Egyptian intelligence officials arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday, in their first visit to the coastal enclave in several months.

The delegation, led by Ahmed Abdel Khaliq, the head of the Palestinian bureau in the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, entered Gaza by way of the Erez crossing, the sole pedestrian passageway between Israel and the small territory, several Palestinian news outlets reported.

The last visit of Egyptian intelligence officials to Gaza took place on September 8, the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center reported.

Tensions have recently spiked between Hamas and Egypt after the terror group’s chief, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Iran in January and participated in the funeral of slain general Qassem Soleimani, many Arabic-language news outlets have reported.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said in late January that Egypt rebuked Hamas over Haniyeh’s visit to Iran.

MEMRI: 'Is It Our Job To Protect Jihadi Terrorists?' – Turkish Journalist Criticizes Turkish Presence In Syria
In a February 4, 2020 column titled "Is It Our Job To Protect Jihadi Terrorists?" following an exchange of fire on February 3 between Syrian and Turkish forces in Idlib that resulted in the deaths of at least eight Turkish citizens, Turkish writer Mehmet Yılmaz criticized Turkey's policy of stationing soldiers in Idlib. Yılmaz wrote: "Idlib, for whose defense we sent our soldiers, is the last refuge of armed jihadi terrorists... To drive our soldiers into the line of fire in order to protect them is much more than a mistake!"[1] On February 7, following the exchange, a Turkish political monitoring website reported that five of Turkey's 12 military observation points in Idlib were under siege by the Syrian military, including the observation point in the city of Saraqib.[2]

It has been reported that the Turkish military opposed the placement of these observation points in Idlib, saying that surveillance drones could accomplish the same task, but that retired general Adnan Tanrıverdi, then chief advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, convinced Erdoğan to establish these observation points against the judgement of the military.[3] Tanrıverdi has been articulating a vision of a unified Islamic superpower, which is reflected in Erdoğan's foreign policy, through conferences and documents published by his organizations.[4]

Yılmaz's article came after Turkey's Defense Ministry published four press releases on February 3 describing an exchange of fire that day between Syrian government forces and Turkish forces in Idlib. The statements reported that seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian as well as 76 Syrian government "soldiers and personnel" were killed in the exchange. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the same day that "30-35 regime elements had been neutralized" and that "of course there will be consequences for the [Syrian] regime."[5]

Following is a translation of excerpts from Yılmaz's article:

"Idlib, For Whose Defense We Sent Our Soldiers, Is The Last Refuge Of Armed Jihadi Terrorists"

"In Idlib, eight Turkish citizens, of whom five were soldiers and three were civilians, died as a result of strikes by the Syrian regime army... President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: 'about 30-35 regime elements were neutralized.'...

"This is not a game. We are not in a situation in which we can keep score by saying: 'This many of our soldiers were martyred, and we killed that many soldiers from the other side.' The situation does not change if we 'neutralize' not 30-35 but 350 'elements' from the other side. Eight of our citizens, five of whom were soldiers and three were civil servants, lost their lives! Those on the other side are not 'elements,' they are people!...
Hezbollah’s popularity seen waning as Lebanese protests continue
Anti-government protestors continued to take to the streets of Beirut over the weekend, declaring their lack of confidence in the country’s new prime minister, Hassan Diab, and his cabinet.

As the new government’s biggest backer, the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement is seeing its popularity wane and possibly losing its legitimacy as a resistance movement.

“The government failed before it even started,” Ali Amin, a Lebanese analyst and journalist who writes for the London-based Al-Arab newspaper, told The Media Line, explaining that people were revolting against an entire political system but were given a new government with the same platform and same political powers.

“Hezbollah is a key party in forming this new government and is perhaps its primary backer, as [the government] could never have been formed without Hezbollah's support for its leader and members,” he said. “The ongoing battle here is between the new government and the street, which rejects it and is expressing this through protests.”

The protests have been taking place since mid-October, when people rose up against a new tax on the use of internet-based communications programs like Whatsapp. The protests widened to express a deep dissatisfaction with economic mismanagement, corruption and sectarianism.

Iranian ‘Victory’ Satellite Fails to Reach Orbit
Iran unveiled a new short-range missile called Thunder on Sunday and launched a satellite named Victory which failed to reach orbit.

The developments took place at a time of high tension with the US, which killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3, prompting an Iranian missile attack on an American base in Iraq.

Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said the satellite launch had not gone as planned.

“I wanted to make you happy with good news but sometimes life does not go the way we want it to. The launch was not successful,” he tweeted.

A Defense Ministry official earlier told state television the “Zafar” (“Victory”) satellite had launched successfully but not reached orbit.

“We will make improvements for future launches,” he said.

US officials say they fear long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.

State television said Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is in charge of the country’s missile program, had unveiled the new missile, called Raad-500, Farsi for Thunder.

Iran‘s clerical rulers have said Tehran’s missile program is solely defensive.

Iranian Regime Cracks Down on ‘Indecently Dressed’ Mannequins in Shops
Not stopping at imprisoning and torturing women for refusing to wear Sharia-mandated hijab, the Iranian regime is now cracking down on ‘indecently dressed’ mannequins in shops, the Iranian state-controlled media reported. Iranian police are screening shop windows for any violation of the Sharia dress-code and shutting down retailers found in violation. They also “warned online clothing retailers that display their products in an un-Islamic fashion,” news reports say.

Iranian women are forced to follow the strict Islamic dress-code put in place by the regime once it grabbed power in 1979. Women taking off the hijab, the mandatory Islamic headscarf, in defiance of the Sharia Law, can face rape, torture, and long prison terms in Iran.

The Czech Republic-based Radio Free Europe reported the Iranian crackdown on ‘un-Islamic’ dress-code:
A Tehran Police official on Friday said indecently dressed mannequins that weaken “the culture of modesty and hijab” and “promote immorality” will be removed by the police from shop windows.

Colonel Nader Moradi, Deputy Commander of the Greater Tehran Police for Supervision of Commercial Venues, said the Police will implement its program to “regulate clothing retailers” in Tehran from Saturday. Implementation of the program will continue until the Iranian New Year holidays which start on March 21, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted him as saying.

Women’s clothing in Tehran’s many shops and shopping centers is often displayed on headless dummies with bare legs, arms and even shoulders. Women cannot appear in public wearing the same attire.

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