Wednesday, February 12, 2020

02/12 Links Pt1: The Arabs are giving up on the Palestinians, and the PA knows it; UN Releases Anti-Israel Blacklist, Fueling Global BDS Campaign

From Ian:

The Arabs are giving up on the Palestinians, and the PA knows it
Since 1948, the Palestinian leadership has adhered to an obstructionist orthodoxy, espousing an uncompromising rejection of the state of Israel. They have poured their resources and energy into hatred. UNRWA — which is supposed to be a politically neutral humanitarian organization — receives foreign funding, which is allocated to operate health clinics, schools and other laudable initiatives. Except, the money is handed over holus-bolus to local Palestinian authorities, unhindered by any meaningful oversight or accountability. School curricula is rife with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred, ensuring that the conflict persists. This is well-documented and known.

Nation building is hard work. Those that have succeeded in this uphill challenge have demonstrated cohesion and developed institutions to serve the people and improve their lives. Palestinian leaders, however, have become expert in perpetuating misery and pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars, tucked away safely in foreign bank accounts. All of them, including Arafat.

Until now, the default Palestinian reaction to any peace initiative has been immediate and total rejection. This time was no exception. Hamas launched rockets and airborne balloons with incendiary devices attached and intended to attract children and blow them to bits. The PA huffed and puffed and warned of violence and mayhem, which they delivered with customary reliability.

The PA is incensed by what it sees as the betrayal of its Arab brothers and sisters, abandoning their cause. Even the E.U. — not known for adopting positions sympathetic to Israel — is urging the Palestinians to chuck the brittle “all or nothing” approach, roll up their sleeves and get to the table. Neither time nor history are on their side, nor is precedent. Their demands are just not going to be met. Pragmatism and reality have finally influenced the Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians and others to abandon the rhetoric of the past and adopt a more realistic, prudent approach to the present and future.

Palestinian leaders are the authors and perpetuators of the continuing statelessness, oppression and misery of their people. And everyone seems to see that but the Palestinians themselves.
Olmert and Abbas meet in New York, urge direct talks as Trump plan rejected
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with former premier Ehud Olmert Tuesday and committed to restarting peace talks where they left off with the former Israeli leader over a decade ago, while rejecting a current US-backed peace effort.

The New York meeting and press conference by the two drew vociferous condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused them of trying to undermine the US peace plan.

Rejecting the Trump plan in a joint press conference held on the sidelines of a UN Security Council meeting, Abbas called for a resumption of the talks he had held with Olmert when the latter was Israel’s prime minister 12 years earlier.

The two had “made real progress,” Abbas insisted, saying he was “fully ready to resume negotiations where we left it with you, Mr. Olmert, under the umbrella of the international Quartet, and not on the basis of the plan of annexation and legalizing settlements and destroying the two-state solution.”

Abbas “is a man of peace. He is opposed to terror. And therefore he is the only partner that we can deal with,” Olmert, who was seated beside the Palestinian leader, told reporters.

“I think that there is a partner,” Olmert reiterated, calling Abbas “the only partner in the Palestinian community that represents the Palestinian people, and that has manifested that he is prepared to negotiate.

Netanyahu slams Olmert's support for Abbas at the UN as 'low point in Israeli history'
Of all days, when Israel and the United States notched a victory at the United Nations Security Council and forced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to deliver a relatively "weak" speech, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chose to stand by the embattled Palestinian leader and declare him to be "a partner" for peace.

Abbas "is a man of peace. He is opposed to terror. And therefore he is the only partner that we can deal with," Olmert said.

"I want to make it clear that I didn't come to the US to criticize the US president [Donald Trump] or his political plan. It's not appropriate, there's no reason for me to do it in America… and I also didn't come to criticize Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu – I use every opportunity to do so in Israel, but I won't do it here in the United States."

But he insisted that ultimately, peace could only come from direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Trump's plan "is aimed at eventually making peace between Israel and the Palestinians. So we have to negotiate with the Palestinians. Who will we negotiate with?" Olmert asked.

"Who will be the partner on the Israeli side, we will know later this year," he said, alluding to the March 2 elections scheduled in Israel, though two elections last year failed to produce a government.

UN Watch: UN Releases Anti-Israel Blacklist, Fueling Global Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign
The controversial database of companies doing business with Israeli settlements, which Bachelet’s office has yet to produce on any other state, was mandated by a March 2016 resolution of the UN Human Rights Council that was sponsored by Kuwait on behalf of the 22-member Arab Group, Pakistan on behalf of the 56-nation Islamic group, along with Sudan, Venezuela, Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Chad, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, and Libya.

“Dictatorships initiated this blacklist not because they care about human rights, but to divert attention from serial rights abuses committed by council members like Venezuela, Libya, and DR Congo, by scapegoating the Jewish state,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based watchdog organization.

UN Watch has published a detailed Myth & Facts on the Blacklist.
“Doing business in disputed territories has never been prohibited under international law, nor, until today, subject to a UN blacklist. For example, the EU has business and financial dealings in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara and in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus,” said Neuer.

“Curiously, out of more than 100 territorial disputes in the world today, including in Tibet, Kashmir, Crimea, Western Sahara and Northern Cyprus, the UN chose only to blacklist companies doing business in Israel’s disputed territories,” he added.

“As several major democracies wrote the UN, the world body has no legal mandate to tell companies where they should or should not operate. Moreover, if this were really about human rights, then the key factor would be a consideration of whether Palestinian human rights are actually violated, yet that’s ignored.”

“Sadly, this is one more example of the Palestinian hijacking of UN bodies to promote a one-sided political agenda that fosters conflict instead of advancing peace.”

“High Commissioner Bachelet, who should be standing up for the UN Charter principles of universality and equality, has now allowed her office to become a tool for the discriminatory anti-Israel BDS movement, which singles out the Jewish state for boycott, divestment and sanctions. With the blacklist, the UN has now become Ground Zero for global BDS.”

UN human rights agency releases blacklist of 112 companies that aid settlements
Nearly four years in the making, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday surprisingly published a list of more than 100 companies that conduct business in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli reacted angrily to the publication of the blacklist, denouncing the UN body responsible for compiling it and vowing to protect Israeli financial interests. The Palestinians, meanwhile, celebrated a “victory for international law.”

Most of the 112 companies on the list are Israeli, including all major banks, state-owned transportation companies Egged and Israel Railways Corporation, and telecommunications giants Bezeq, HOT and Cellcom. It also lists medium-size companies such as restaurant chain Café Café and Angel bakeries.

“We will contest this [blacklist] with all of our strength,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Army Radio Wednesday. “We will gain recognition for our sovereignty over these communities and this will cancel its effect.”

“I am proud to give these businesses a platform,” President Reuven Rivlin said after reading out a long list of Israeli companies mentioned on the list.
The blacklist: All 112 companies UN says are operating in settlements
The UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday published a “database” of 112 companies it says are conducting business in West Bank settlements.

In the report the council said the companies’ activities “raised particular human rights concerns.”

The list is dominated by Israeli companies, including banks and construction firms. But it also lists a number of international firms, including travel companies Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor, tech giant Motorola and construction and infrastructure companies including France’s Egis Rail and British company JC Bamford Excavators.

Six of the companies listed are based in the US, four in the Netherlands, three in the UK, three in France, and one each in Luxembourg and Thailand.

Israeli authorities reacted with fury to the report, which they described as a “blacklist,” while the Palestinians lauded the list as “a victory for international law.”

The list includes companies that are directly engaged in the West Bank, parent companies that own a majority share in firms operating in the West Bank, and companies granting franchises or licenses to West Bank businesses.

Israel slams UN after it blacklists companies that operate in Judea and Samaria
The United Nations human rights office on Wednesday issued a report on companies it said have business ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a long-delayed move that immediately drew condemnation in Jerusalem.

In a statement, it said it had identified 112 business entities that it has reasonable grounds to conclude have ties with Israeli settlements – 94 domiciled in Israel and 18 in six other states.

It identified companies listed in the United States, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Thailand and Britain. Among these was US-based home-renting company Airbnb.

"I am conscious this issue has been, and will continue to be, highly contentious," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.

Her office said the report "does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises' involvement in them."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear he considered the US government's position on settlements under President Donald Trump as more important than the views of UN organizations.

"We will ensure the [administration's] recognition of our sovereignty over those settlements – that will cancel out the entire impact of the United Nations because the United States is more important than the UN," he told Army Radio.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki welcomed the report as a "victory for international law" and urged UN member states to issue instructions to the companies listed "to end their work immediately with the settlement system".

Airbnb said in November 2018 that it would remove listings in Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. But it said the following April that it would not implement the planned delisting and would donate proceeds from any bookings in the territory to international humanitarian aid organizations.
UN publishes blacklist of companies with ties to Israeli settlements
Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused the UN of shamefully surrendering to organizations that sought to harm Israel.

“The high commissioner’s decision to continue the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) anti-Israeli stance is a stain on her office," Katz said.
He accused High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet as being a servant and accomplice of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Katz noted that the list has no legal standing and that the council, which commissioned the list in 2016, was made up nations that are human rights violators.

“The State of Israel will not accept such discriminatory and anti-Israeli policies, and we will work in all ways to prevent such decisions from being implemented,” Katz said.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan slammed the blacklist as a disgraceful decision, adding that the only thing it will achieve is hurting "the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians who coexistence and cooperate with Israelis on a daily basis in Judea and Samaria."

President Reuven Rivlin listed several companies on the list and said he was proud to give these business a platform.

"I am proud to give a platform to these businesses. Proud to be Israeli," he said in a statement. "I am proud that these are Israeli businesses, patriots [who] are contributing to Israeli society, economy and peace."

"When Israeli business companies are under threat of boycott, we will stand by them. Boycotting Israeli companies is not conducive to peace and building trust between the parties."

Ruthie Blum: The Israeli Left vs. Palestinian and Arab-world pragmatists
In an attempt to downplay the role played by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the attitudinal Arab-world shift – due mainly, but not exclusively, to a shared mission to halt Iran's race to obtain nuclear weapons – the Israeli Left had a gleeful "we told you so" moment at the beginning of the month when the Arab League unanimously rejected the "deal of the century."

At an emergency meeting held in Cairo on Feb. 1 at the behest of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the pan-Arab bloc declared that Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" plan "does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people," and vowed not to cooperate with the United States to implement it. Among the nay-saying countries at the summit were the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain, each of which had sent representatives to Trump's joint press conference with Netanyahu at the White House on Jan. 28.

To clarify the above about-face, an anonymous Arab diplomat told the left-wing Israeli daily, Haaretz, that Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Manama had been misled by Washington with a document stating that the plan included the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital as the basis for peace negotiations.

In other words, they were duped into accepting an invitation by the White House. Yeah, right.

Thrilled to have the support of the Arab League, which for the past few years has ignored the Palestinians in favor of issues that its members actually consider pressing, Abbas announced – for the umpteenth time – that he was severing all ties with the US and Israel, including those related to security.

In other words, Abbas and his so-called champions were doing what they always do: grandstanding for internal consumption, while continuing to serve their own interests without skipping a beat. Indeed, Abbas has not ceased security cooperation with Israel because it keeps him and his Fatah cronies from being slaughtered by Hamas. Nor do the Arab states that need US support, while engaging in no-longer-covert relations with Israel, intend on adopting any real measures to jeopardize their protective American umbrella.

This might seem incomprehensible to people living in the warmth of the West, but Israelis take it for granted – even left-wing journalists and academics who tend to pick and choose those stated Palestinian and Arab positions that they believe best encourage a Netanyahu defeat at the ballot box.
Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy (WSJ): The Promise of the Trump Peace Plan
The conventional wisdom is that the Palestinian leadership didn't show up to receive the U.S. peace plan because Palestinians didn't get a good deal. This assumes these leaders would be interested in making peace, if only Israel made the right concessions. While many in the West wish this to be true, what's really missing is a Palestinian leadership interested in Israel as a peace partner.

In the early 1990s, Israeli leaders and their Western counterparts brought Arafat back from exile in Tunis and made him a dictator. They viewed Arafat's authoritarian nature as a plus - to control even more violent Palestinian enemies of peace such as Hamas.

But the zeal for peace at any price overlooked the basics of Dictatorship 101. Repressive regimes maintain control over their people by mobilizing them with external foes to fight and internal dissidents to destroy. To hold on to power, Arafat needed Israel as an enemy, not a partner.

During Arafat's 10-year reign of terror he brutalized his own people from the start, crushing all opposition. He alternated between talking peace and terrorizing Israel when each was useful to him, while twisting his education system to make sure the next generation of Palestinians would hate Israelis even more. Meanwhile, he kept Western leaders believing that one more Israeli concession, one more agreement, would bring a peace he never intended to deliver.

Natan Sharansky served as Israel's minister of industry and trade in the 1990s and was involved during the Oslo period in efforts to bolster the Palestinian economy. This firsthand look was sobering. For Arafat and his henchmen, it was more important to keep job creation and distribution under their control than to promote prosperity for ordinary Palestinians. International investments became opportunities for patronage and racketeering.

Four years aren't enough to make a full transition from dictatorship to democracy or from decades of war to peace. But it could be enough for the first seeds of Palestinian civil society to sprout.
David Singer: Trump Moves to End 3000 Years Wait by the Jewish People
The PLO and the Arab League had committed political suicide in rebuffing Trump – ensuring that part of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) will soon come under Israeli sovereignty whilst the Arabs correspondingly miss out.

Another golden opportunity to end the Jewish-Arab conflict has been lost by continuing Arab intransigency.

Trump’s strategy will see new boundaries being determined for Israel incorporating part of the Jewish People’s biblical, historic and ancestral heartland in Judea and Samaria.

The area will be small in size but massively significant for the psyche of the Jewish People – who have been waiting for this day to arrive for 3000 years.

President Trump is bringing that very long wait to an end.

Israeli UN envoy: No progress toward peace as long as Abbas in office
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday said peace will remain impossible as long as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stays in office.

“Let’s not beat around the bush. Progress toward peace will not be made so long as President Abbas remains in his position,” Danny Danon told the UN Security Council during a debate of the US administration’s peace proposal.

“Only when he steps down can Israel and the Palestinians move forward. A leader who chooses rejectionism, incitement and glorification of terror can never be a real partner for peace,” the Israeli envoy said.

Danon criticized the 84-year-old Palestinian leader, who addressed the Security Council minutes before him, for going to New York rather than to Jerusalem or Washington to engage in genuine peace talks.

“If President Abbas was serious about negotiations, he wouldn’t be here today. He would be in Jerusalem or in Washington sitting down with his negotiating partner,” he said.

“But President Abbas is not serious about negotiations, or about peace. Instead, he did what he always does – he came here to distract from his own unwillingness to negotiate, to speak,” Danon continued. “ He is trying to blame the lack of progress toward peace on Israel. Complaining instead of leading, that is Abbas’ way. That was his way when he took office, and that is his way today, in the 16th year of his four-year term.”
Israeli Ambassador the UN Addresses UNSC

Abbas at UN rejects US plan: It legalizes the illegal, leaves us ‘Swiss cheese’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the US administration’s peace plan at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, but said he would be willing to open negotiations with Israel under the patronage of the Quartet and on the basis of international resolutions.

“I came to all of you today to affirm the Palestinian position which rejects the American-Israeli deal,” Abbas said at the beginning of his remarks to the Security Council.

“It legalized what is illegal: settlement building and confiscation and annexation of Palestinian lands,” he said. “I affirm, here, that it is necessary that this deal or any part of it not be considered an international reference for negotiations.”

The PA president added that the plan “transforms our homeland into fragmented residential encampments” and described the territories it envisions for a future state of Palestine as “Swiss cheese.”

“This deal carries within it dictates, reinforcement of the occupation, annexation by military force and anchoring of an apartheid system,” he said.
EU foreign policy chief warns of violence if Israel annexes Jordan Valley
The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, urged Israel on Tuesday not to annex the Jordan Valley, warning of violent Palestinian protests if it went ahead.

"This may happen ... You can be sure it's not going to be peaceful," Borrell told the European Parliament.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the Jordan Valley on Monday and reiterated his pledge to apply Israeli law there and in other areas that have been designated under the newly unveiled White House peace plan.

"President Donald Trump said that he will recognize Israel's application of sovereignty [over the relevant areas], and he will do so once we finalize the processes that have already begun," Netanyahu said,

Borrell, who traveled to Washington last week, also reiterated his rejection of parts of Trump's peace plan.

"The proposals tabled two weeks ago clearly challenge the internationally agreed parameters. It is difficult to see how this initiative can bring both parties back to the table," Borrell said of Israel and the Palestinians.

"I made this point to my (US) interlocutors: We need to ask ourselves whether this plan provides a basis for progress or not."

Petra Marquardt-Bigman: The Poisonous Legacy of ‘Hitler’s Mufti’ Makes Peace Impossible
The Trump administration’s recently released “Peace to Prosperity” plan may be controversial, but it includes one provision on page 16 that gets to the core of the conflict it seeks to solve: “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

Whomever disagrees with this stipulation is quite simply not interested in a genuine peace.

No matter what the details of any peace plan might look like, there is no justification for barring Jews from freely visiting and openly praying at their faith’s holiest site. The fact that nobody really dares to say so goes a long way towards explaining why the conflict between the Palestinians — supported by the wider Arab-Muslim world — and the world’s only Jewish state has remained so intractable.

The long Arab-Muslim war against self-determination for the Jews in their ancient homeland began a century ago, prominently led by Haj Amin al-Husseini, whose enthusiastic collaboration with the Nazis would eventually earn him the moniker “Hitler’s mufti.”

Husseini realized early on that fanning the flames of religious Jew-hate would enable him to mobilize murderous mobs whose savage violence was meant to demonstrate the futility of Jewish hopes to establish a safe haven in their ancestral homeland.
The New U.S. Peace Initiative Isn’t a Solution to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict—Nor Should It Be
Interviewed by Neri Zilber, Efraim Inbar compares the current American proposal for creating a Palestinian state with the plan for territorial compromise set forth by the Labor politician Yigal Allon in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. Like that plan, the new plan “gives Israel control over the Jordan Valley, keeping Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty,” while proposing withdrawal from other West Bank territory. To Zilber’s question of whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to go along with it, Inbar responds:

Netanyahu was and is willing to make territorial compromises with the Palestinians if they behave. Netanyahu has in fact [always] been in the “left wing” of his Likud party, and I’ve heard he’s not averse to giving up additional land for a good deal. But of course, a good deal in his eyes is different from a good deal in Palestinian eyes. And the proof of this is that he accepted the Trump plan as well as indirectly the idea of a Palestinian state, which is included in the Trump plan. And his right wing . . . is up in arms.

Even during the Obama administration, Netanyahu was willing to say yes to [then-Secretary of State] John Kerry in the spring of 2014, including giving up sovereignty in exchange for [Israeli] military control over the Jordan Valley.

Most importantly, argues Inbar, the new peace plan is “definitely not” a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict:

It’s very naïve if you think you can stop this conflict. It’s over 100 years old, but compared with other protracted, territorial-religious conflicts it’s still young. . . . I do not believe we should be speaking in terms of solutions but rather in terms of managing and limiting the conflict for both sides. The conflict cannot be solved. . . . In the meantime, we should try to manage it within bearable parameters.
[Israel] can never give up security control over the West Bank. The Trump plan acknowledges that. Israel will continue doing what it does now. The status quo is bearable, and I do not see the Palestinians being able to fulfill the minimum criterion of a state, which is the monopoly over the use of force. This is not only a Palestinian problem, but a general Arab political and cultural problem in the region.
MEMRI: Egyptian, Emirati And Kuwaiti Journalists And Intellectuals: 'Deal Of The Century' Results From The Palestinians' Mishandling Of Their Cause; They Must Consider It Objectively, Avoid Missing Another Opportunity
The Palestinian leadership has firmly rejected the Middle East peace plan announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on January 28, 2020, which has been dubbed "The Deal of the Century." A week after the plan's announcement, the Arab League foreign ministers convened for an emergency meeting, following which they issued a statement supporting the Palestinian position: they too unanimously rejected the deal while underlining the centrality of the Palestinian cause. This was despite the fact that the ambassadors of Oman, Bahrain and the UAE had been present at the announcement of the deal, and despite the supportive statements made by several Arab leaders immediately after its announcement.[1]

Alongside articles condemning Trump's peace plan and echoing the sentiments of the foreign ministers' statement, other articles in the Arab press criticized the official Palestinian position of rejecting the plan out of hand. They urged the Palestinian leadership to find a way to benefit from the plan rather than miss another opportunity to resolve the conflict. The articles also pointedly criticized the conduct of the Palestinian factions over the years, and their concentration on internal conflicts at the expense of the Palestinians' national interests, which, they said, caused a decline in the support for this cause in the Arab world.

The following are excerpts from some of these articles:

Emirati Analyst: The Deal Of The Century Is A Result Of The Palestinian Schism And The Palestinian Leadership's Loss Of Way

Emirati analyst Salam Al-Kutbi, who writes on the Saudi Elaph website, accused the Palestinian leadership of mishandling the Palestinian cause and thereby preparing the ground for the Deal of the Century. He added that the Palestinian must propose alternative solutions to the conflict and recruit Arab support for them, instead of sinking in internal quarrels and turning to countries like Iran and Turkey for help:

"Most of the elements of U.S. President Donald Trump's peace deal that concern the Palestinians did not come as a surprise for most people... It was [all] clear and expected, and the problem is not the [deal] itself but how the Arabs and Palestinians should address the issue to begin with. There is no ignoring the fact that the persistence and deepening of the Palestinian schism, and even worse, the Palestinian leaders' and organizations' loss of way, has led [us] to this juncture.
Poll: 94% of Palestinians reject Trump plan, 64% favor return to armed struggle
Ninety-four percent of Palestinians reject US President Donald Trump's Mideast initiative, according to a poll released Tuesday, which also found plummeting support for a two-state solution with Israel and nearly two-thirds backing armed struggle.

The first survey of Palestinian public opinion to be released since Trump's plan was announced undercuts the administration's claims that opposition to the plan is largely confined to the Palestinian leadership and raises concerns that the implementation of the proposal could ignite a new round of violence.

The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research was published as thousands of Palestinians rallied in Judea and Samaria and Gaza to reject the Trump plan and express support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his efforts to gain backing at the UN Security Council for a resolution opposing it.

Trump's Mideast plan, announced at the White House on Jan. 28, would allow Israel to annex parts of Judea and Samaria, including Jewish communities that are home to hundreds of thousands of people.

The plan would give the Palestinians limited self-rule in contiguous enclaves connected by roads, bridges and tunnels, but only if they meet a list of conditions.

The Palestinian leadership, which cut off ties with the US after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017, have adamantly rejected the plan.

The opinion survey found that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and Gaza also oppose it.

"I don't think we've ever seen such a level of consensus among the Palestinian public," said Khalil Shikaki, the head of the polling center.
Anti-Semitic Fatah tweet removed
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan attacked on Twitter the hypocrisy expressed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in his speech at the UN Security Council yesterday.

"While Holocaust denier Abu Mazen claimed he was interested in peace in the United Nations, look what his party raised. His hatred of Jews is a nauseating reminder of what a two-faced liar he is," Erdan wrote, displaying an anti-Semitic image which had been on the official Fatah Twitter page.

Following the tweet, members of the pro-Israel DigiTell network, set up by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, took action, shared and reported the anti-Semitic cartoon. Within hours, the tweet was removed from Twitter.

Tzachi Gabrieli, Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said: "Social networks have become the basis for the distribution of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli content in recent years. We have set up the DigiTell network just for that purpose - an operative network from 20 countries that provides real-time response to false discourse, incitement and hatred of hatred against Israel. Removing the cartoon is another success of the network and proves its importance to the State of Israel and the Jewish people."
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Issues Fatwa Against U.S. Peace Plan
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem issued a fatwa prohibiting dealing with US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” and its promoters, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein released a bold statement today declaring whoever negotiates with the deal a traitor to God and His Messenger (pbuh), and to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and Palestine.

He stated that Trump’s so-called “peace plan”, which flagrantly violates international law, robs Jerusalem of its rightful owners, and deprives Muslims of their third most important holy site and the path of their Prophet.

It stipulates that Jerusalem is the “undivided” capital of Israel, while Palestine would have limited control over scattered neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site, after Makkah and Medina.

The “deal of the century” unilaterally annuls previous UN resolutions on the Palestinian issue and suggests giving Israel almost everything it has been demanding.

Hussein stressed that the deal also came to nullify the right of the Palestinian people to live on their land in dignity, tightens the hand of the oppressors and supports them, as well as giving Israel most of the Palestinian land “scented with the blood of the noble martyrs”.
From No-Deal to a Deal
In reaction to the U.S. Middle East peace plan, the call for "armed struggle" declared by Palestinian factions will contribute little to altering the Palestinian reality while adding another arena of violence to a region that has had more than its fill of foreign interventions, civil wars, popular uprisings, terrorist movements, funeral processions, and waves of refugees and displaced persons.

From an Arab point of view, apart from the questionable pleasure of accumulating more international resolutions in our favor, approaching the U.S. peace plan as a framework for negotiations offers more practical potential than a vote in favor of the Palestinian cause in international forums. Choosing the negotiating path on the basis of the proposed plan offers the Palestinians the opportunity to improve many of that plan's conditions.

The U.S. plan opens a way that is unavailable under a current situation characterized by a deepening inter-Palestinian rift, dwindling Arab energies and declining international interest. The Palestinian cause does not exist in a historical or geographical vacuum. Current Palestinian anger is totally understandable, but anger does not solve intractable problems.

US-born soldier injured in Jerusalem car-ramming released from hospital
An American-born soldier who was moderately wounded in last week’s car-ramming attack in Jerusalem was released from the capital’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem on Wednesday, hospital officials said.

Uri Hemo, who moved to Israel from San Diego, California, was one of 12 soldiers from the Golani Brigade who were injured in the attack outside Jerusalem’s First Station, a popular entertainment hub, as they were walking to the Western Wall for a swearing-in ceremony.

One soldier was severely injured in the attack, sustaining injuries throughout his body. As of Wednesday, he remained hospitalized in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s intensive care unit in stable but serious condition and was breathing on his own, a hospital spokesperson said.

Hemo sustained injuries to his face, chest and pelvis, requiring multiple surgeries, the hospital said.
Israeli laser defense system successfully intercepts multiple drone targets
An Israeli-developed drone defense system successfully intercepted multiple targets and shot them down with a laser beam, aerospace company Rafael said Wednesday.

Rafael’s Drone Dome C-UAS was also able to track and hit small drones that were maneuvering in flight, a more challenging target.

“The system achieved 100% success in all test scenarios,” Rafael said in a statement.

Drome Dome provides “effective detection, full identification and neutralization of multiple Micro and Mini UAV threats,”it said.

In a video of the tests, a vehicle-mounted system was shown engaging the targets, including drones that were sharply changing direction. In one test, three drones flying in formation were shot down in succession.

“Drone Dome is designed to address threats posed by hostile drones both in military and civilian sites, offering advanced solutions for maneuvering forces and military facilities, critical border protection, as well as civilian targets such as airports, public facilities, or any other sites that might be vulnerable to the increasing threat of both terror and criminal drones,” the company said.
Trump administration's 2021 budget excludes funding for PA security forces
US funding for Palestinian Authority security forces was excluded in the Trump administration's budget released on Monday for the 2021 fiscal year – the first time that a US government budget excluded funds for that purpose.

The budget request does consist of $200 million for a "Diplomatic Progress Fund" that could be used to implement the administration's Mideast peace plan, details of which were released on Jan. 28. And while it includes an "agreement to resume security assistance in the West Bank," such an arrangement would likely require the Palestinian Authority to accept the plan, which it has already rejected.

Last year, all $60 million in US assistance to PA security forces was cut off in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, signed into law in October, which provides protections for American victims of international terrorism.

Israel reportedly urged the Trump administration to fix the ATCA to preserve the security assistance.

In the last budget, signed into law in December, $75 million was allocated towards PA security assistance.

Other items in the administration's budget request include the usual $3.3 billion in military assistance for Israel, in accordance with the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding agreed to during the Obama administration; $1.3 billion in economic and security assistance to Jordan; $5 million for supporting Jewish migrants to Israel, including from the former Soviet Union and Africa; and $30 million for Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai Peninsula, which supervises the implementation of the security provisions of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty.
Hamas Steals Israeli Tech to Bolster Gaza Terror Infrastructure
The Hamas terror group last week stole state-of-the-art communications equipment provided by Israel to the Palestinian Authority for non-military use in Gaza.

The organization seized the sophisticated equipment to improve its military communications system, including in the tunnels it has been digging from the Gaza Strip.

About 10 days ago, dozen of members of the Hamas military wing broke into the Gaza warehouses of the Palestinian media giant the Paltel Group, taking equipment worth tens of millions of shekels.

The stolen equipment included optical fiber, advanced electronic communication systems that allow frequency hopping (changing frequency to avoid interception), copper cables and more.

The Paltel group comprises several companies that provide cellular, wired and internet services to the Palestinians and has a long-standing cooperation with Israel.

It is headquartered in the West Bank city of Ramallah but has a branch in Gaza that provides services to various parts of the Strip.
The stolen equipment is classed by Israel as "dual-use" and its entry into Gaza had been banned in an effort to diminish Hamas' military strength.
Palestinian-Lebanese Scholar Ali Al-Yousuf: We Will Rip out the Israelis' Spleens and Livers
Palestinian-Lebanese Islamic scholar Sheikh Ali Al-Yousuf, who is a member of the International Union for the Support of Jerusalem and Palestine, said in a February 6, 2020 interview on Channel 9 (Turkey) that the Palestinians will rip out Israel’s livers and spleens and deliver a “mighty and deadly” blow to its heart in a fashion similar to how Israeli forces shot Muhammad Salman Al-Haddad, a Palestinian 17-year old who was killed by Israeli forces during a February 5 protest in the West Bank. Sheikh Al-Yousuf said that the Palestinians in Lebanon still “erupt like a volcano” and fight on the Palestinian front while simultaneously fighting on the Lebanese front against injustice, tyranny, and oppression and against those who want to “restrain” and “neuter” the Palestinians by getting them to accept repatriation in Lebanon. He added: “We continue saying: No to repatriation, no to deportation, yes to returning to Palestine.”

UN sends mixed messages to ‘Palestine’ about using child soldiers
Overlapping UN bodies have been sending mixed messages in their first review of “the State of Palestine’s” compliance with children’s rights, especially regarding accusations of exploiting their children for armed conflict with Israel.

The issue has come to a head on Wednesday as the world celebrated Red Hand Day or the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, in which pleas are made to political leaders not to exploit children in armed conflict.

While the politically-staffed UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is generally viewed by Israel as entirely biased and has ignored the issue, the more apolitical expert-staffed UN Human Rights Committee (the Committee) has pressed PA representatives hard over the issue in recent weeks.

NGO Monitor, which monitors a variety of UN and NGO activities relating to Israel, has been on the front lines of trying to present evidence about the PA’s deliberate exploitation of children to foment armed conflict with Israel.

The group told The Jerusalem Post that the UN Committee either tried to minimize the evidence it has presented or consciously used procedural obstacles to block some photographic evidence from presentation.

More specifically, NGO Monitor said that the UN Committee at first refused to even allow their submission regarding the Palestinians’ exploitation of children for armed conflict into the record.

Subsequently, the UN told NGO Monitor that it could not post their submission because of photos depicting children’s faces. There are laws against identifying minors in photos.

However, NGO Monitor replied that the photos it used were all publicly available, and in any event, refiled its submission with the faces of the children blurred.
NGOs call for public support in ending use of Palestinian child soldiers
A coalition of non-governmental organizations is urging the public to help stop the use of Palestinian children as soldiers and war resources by their leaders and terror groups in the region.

There are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers in 20 countries worldwide, including any person under 18 who is either recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

While the plight of child soldiers in Africa in particular has received global attention, their Arab counterparts in the Palestinian territories have often been ignored by the international community, as the human cost of using children to carry out terror attacks or as human shields has become overlooked in the political battles raging over the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Yet the children who survive their ordeal often carry the scars of trauma, preventing them not only from having a normal childhood, but also from being able to live fulfilling lives as adults.

Now, a group of NGOs has banded together in a bid to raise the issue of Palestinian child soldiers on the world stage.

MEMRI: At Baghdad Commemoration For Soleimani And Al-Muhandis, Commanders of Iraqi Militias Refrain From Threatening U.S. – But In The Streets, President Trump, U.S. Soldiers Are Hanged In Effigy
On February 11, an official public commemoration marking 40 days since the killing of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Popular Mobilization Units deputy commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis was held in Baghdad's Green Zone. It was attended by several PMU commanders and Iraqi officials, who during it vowed to defend Iraq's sovereignty against enemies and to continue the journey of the two "martyrs."

"The major crime [the U.S. drone strike] committed near Baghdad airport against the leaders of victory is a crime against humanity, a crime against Iraq, a crime against our sovereignty and [against] the defense of our children and all that we cherish with it," said Falih Al-Fayadh, PMU head and Iraqi national security advisor in his speech at the event. "The blood of these martyrs, in my personal opinion, is a re-establishment of Hashd [PMU] ... God willing, we will be a thorn in the eye of those who want to rob Iraq of its sovereignty."[1]

On display at the entrance to the hall where the event took place were photos showing Soleimani and Al-Muhandis on various occasions, along with photos showing U.S. soldiers arresting Iraqis; the latter bore captions such as "Occupiers have indeed fulfilled their promises."

Local media reported that the speakers at the event made no threats against U.S. forces, quoting from a February 9 tweet by Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq secretary-general Qais Al-Khalizi in which he wrote: "The military response to the U.S. airstrike is postponed."[2]

Prior to the event, members of the PMU group Hizbullah Brigades hanged U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. soldiers in effigy, at the entrance to Al-Sadr city in northeast Baghdad.[3] Additionally, huge posters of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis were placed in Baghdad public squares.

Local reports also quoted an unnamed Hizbullah Brigades as acknowledging that group had carried out the hanging in effigy, adding that it was "part of the preparation to mark the 40 days since Soleimani's and Al-Muhandis' killing."
Tehran-Backed Hezbollah Steps in to Guide Iraqi Militias in Soleimani’s Wake
Shortly after Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq, the Tehran-backed Lebanese organization Hezbollah urgently met with Iraqi militia leaders, seeking to unite them in the face of a huge void left by their powerful mentor’s death, two sources with knowledge of the meetings told Reuters.

The meetings were meant to coordinate the political efforts of Iraq’s often-fractious militias, which lost not only Soleimani but also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a unifying Iraqi paramilitary commander, in the Jan. 3 attack at Baghdad airport, the sources said.

While offering few details, two additional sources in a pro-Iran regional alliance confirmed that Hezbollah, which is sanctioned as a terrorist
group by the United States, has stepped in to help fill the void left by Soleimani in guiding the militias. All sources in this article spoke on condition of anonymity to address sensitive political activities rarely addressed in public. Officials with the governments of Iraq and Iran did not respond to requests for comment, nor did a spokesperson for the militia groups.

The discussions shed light on how Iran and its allied groups are trying to cement control in the unstable Middle East, especially in the wake of the devastating US attack on a revered Iranian military leader.

The Tehran-backed militias are critical to Iran’s efforts to maintain control over Iraq, where the US still maintains some 5,000 troops. The country has experienced years of civil war since US forces toppled Saddam Hussein and more recently, the government — and the militias — have faced growing protests against Iran’s influence in the country. Iran helped found some Iraqi militia groups.

In the months ahead of his death, Soleimani had waded ever deeper into the Iraq crisis, holding meetings with the Iraqi militias in Baghdad as Tehran sought to defend its allies and interests in its power struggle with the United States, one of the two Iraqi sources said.

Iranian Researcher: Iran Will Empty Its Missile Stockpile on Israel’s Head if it Faces Collapse
Iranian researcher Ali Akbar Raefipour, the founder of the Masaf Institute, said in a lecture that was uploaded to the Internet on January 13, 2020 that Iran’s accurate missiles are on the cutting edge of technology and that Israel is within range of Iran’s missiles. He said that since nobody knows where Iran’s missile cities are, Iran’s enemies would be unable to strike them or take control of them even if Iran collapses. In addition, he said that Iran would empty its missile stockpile on Israel’s head before this could happen. Later in his address, Raefipour said that the environmentalists who were arrested by the IRGC in 2018 and accused of espionage were spies who used the pretext of protecting cheetahs to install GPS trackers on the cheetahs’ collars and to search for Iran’s missiles using telemetric devices. Furthermore, he warned that Americans will die every day as long as the U.S. stays in the Middle East, and he said that Qasem Soleimani had previously restrained the people who will be targeting Americans, but that Iran will now not know who these people are.

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