Thursday, May 28, 2020

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: If Abbas Can Revoke Solemn Obligations over a Knesset Speech, of What Value Are Any Palestinian Commitments?
On May 18, 2020, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority and Chair of the PLO, declared that "[t]he Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved from all agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and from all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones."

This raises several interesting legal and political questions regarding the veracity and credibility of all and any Palestinian commitments.
If the Palestinian leadership feels that it can glibly and freely revoke solemn obligations in signed agreements - witnessed and guaranteed by international leaders - merely at the whim of Mahmoud Abbas because he disapproves of speeches or Israeli policy statements, then one may ask what value or reliability do any Palestinian commitments - past, present or future - hold?

Abbas' declaration and actions are not in response to any specific Israeli action that might be interpreted as violating those agreements. The Palestinian actions are merely in response to a speech by Israel's prime minister expressing possible intentions to apply Israeli law or sovereignty to parts of the territories at a later date, but without such actions having been actually taken.

In light of Abbas' declaration, the question arises whether such abrogation, as well as the actual, unilateral violation by the Palestinian leadership of its commitments in the Oslo Accords, through actively obstructing and preventing security and other forms of bilateral cooperation, does not represent a material breach of those accords, rendering them impossible to implement, and thereby enabling Israel to declare them void.

One may even ask the international community what value exists in the continued Palestinian fixation of acceding to international conventions in violation of their Oslo commitments, when they demonstrate so assertively that they can freely violate any commitments in such conventions and agreements, for no good reason.
Death of a dogma? After annexation, world likely to abandon two-state paradigm
Critics, by contrast, anticipate not only condemnations but sanctions, and not only from Europe but also from 50 percent of the American body politic. They also worry about further alienating Diaspora Jewry, fear for the peace agreement with and the internal stability of Jordan, fret over the recent rapprochement with the Gulf states, and predict increased wrath from the International Criminal Court.

Some have argued that the plan will make a future separation from the Palestinians nearly impossible in the long run, which eventually would turn Israel into an apartheid state in which Israelis and Palestinians share the same space but have unequal rights.

One counterargument is that the currently envisioned annexation — which the Israeli government agreed would only occur in full coordination with the US administration and along the lines of President Donald Trump’s peace proposal — would apply Israeli sovereignty to about 30 percent of the West Bank.

The rest remains reserved for a future Palestinian state — hence, in this thesis, annexation in the framework of the plan would not presage the end of the two-state solution but rather be a step toward a “realistic two-state solution.” Indeed, the so-called deal of the century mentions the term “two-state solution” a whopping 86 times.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to the UN Security Council on February 11, 2020. He is holding a map included in the US proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which he said he rejected and whose application on the ground would be “confronted” by the Palestinians. (UN screenshot)

But rather than embracing the plan as an outline to reach a two-state solution, many in the international community consider it the final nail in the coffin of a two-state solution. And while few officials are currently ready to depart from the decade-old diplomatic dogma sanctifying the two-state solution, there are growing indications that sooner or later they will embrace a one-state outcome.

Because once the world determines that the old “two states for two peoples” paradigm is no longer relevant, it will likely draw the logical conclusion and start advocating for one bi-national state, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, with equal rights for all.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during a news conference in Brussels, January 7, 2020 (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

“We agree that the annexation of the Jordan Valley would mean the end of the two-state solution,” European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on April 30 after speaking to Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

If annexation kills all prospects for a Palestinian state next to Israel — then what’s the alternative?

For now, most governments cling to the two-state doctrine, which has been affirmed as the “best and the only realistic chance for peace” in countless resolutions and declarations. But some officials have started saying the hitherto unthinkable.

“The principle of ‘two states for two people’ was the motto and official condition of the peace process. Let’s face it, time is running out and the situation has changed,” Radek Vondráček, the speaker of Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies, wrote Monday in an op-ed. The world, he added, should not force its “old schemes and the frustration that results from not fulfilling them” on the parties on the ground if they want to explore new ideas.

“The existence of the state of Israel shows that the realization of the human dream of freedom is extremely difficult,” Vondráček wrote. “The dream was not based on the dogma of a two-state solution. It is therefore time to revive the idea of the coexistence of all in one common state.”

As opposed to Vondráček — who is known as a friend of Israel — even those critical of the Israeli government say annexation would make any other outcome impossible.
Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf: How to Solve the Palestinian Refugee Issue
The Palestinian refugee issue is not just one more issue in the conflict; it is probably the issue. The Palestinian conception of themselves as "refugees from Palestine," and their demand to exercise a so-called right of return, reflect the Palestinians' most profound beliefs about their relationship with the land and their lack of willingness to share any part of it with Jews.

The UN structural support and Western financial support for these Palestinian beliefs has led to the creation of a permanent and ever-growing population of Palestinian refugees, and what is by now a nearly insurmountable obstacle to peace. The Palestinian demand to "return" to what became the sovereign state of Israel in 1948 stands as a testament to the Palestinian rejection of the legitimacy of a state for the Jews in any part of their ancestral homeland.

The UN agency (UNRWA) charged with caring for the original Palestinian refugees in the immediate aftermath of the war, and that has been sustained for decades by Western funding with billions of dollars, has instead become a major obstacle to peace and a vehicle for perpetuating the conflict. Since UNRWA is part of the problem, and not part of the solution, we call on the international community to dismantle and replace the agency.

UNRWA's operations should be merged into those of the Palestinian Authority. From a practical perspective, nothing would change but the sign on the door. UNRWA schools would become PA schools, but the pupils, teachers, and curricula would remain the same. The same goes for hospitals. The writers are the co-authors of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace.

Netanyahu: The Palestinians have to concede, not Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that applying Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, and in the Jordan Valley, in particular, is a historical step. This is nothing new. However, he apparently doesn't view the initiative as the end of the diplomatic process. Due to its very nature, an event such as this attracts a great deal of attention and criticism, including from the Jordan, yet Netanyahu doesn't seem overly perturbed.

It's been a turbulent week. His partner in the unity government, Benny Gantz, was stunned over the severity of the prime minister's attack on the people who led the investigations against him in the police and State Attorney's Office, standing outside the Jerusalem District Court where his trial was set to start. Recent polls indicate, perhaps contrary to the intentions of those who wished to harm the prime minister, that the right-wing bloc has ballooned to 67 Knesset seats with the Likud holding steady at 41 mandate.

"I feel well because I feel I'm fighting for truth and justice," Netanyahu tells Israel Hayom from his office in the Knesset. "Of course, also for our country. This is something I do all the time."

Q: In that speech [outside the courthouse] what you said can be taken as you saying that there's no alternative to your leadership on the Right, and all the other [politicians] are pushovers. But they were all standing beside you.

"I didn't say there's no alternative. I said they [the Left] want to topple me in order to remove the Right from power. That's how they think. And they would certainly be willing to accept someone – they wouldn't care if they got someone from the Right who was a pushover. Someone obedient. Who kowtows to all the nonsense they utter through their proxies in the media. Their mouthpieces. Absolutely.

"They've been this way before. Who uprooted communities and were handled with kids gloves. That's not me. Which is why they want to get rid of me. Because they think this is the way to take control of the right. Take control of the country. In the worst case, someone from the Right will be the one doing their bidding."

The Right's mistake
Q: The oppositionist Right is already accusing you of folding, because of the Jordan Valley issue of all things.

"Folding?! Did they deliver the prospect of sovereignty from the Americans? Who delivered it? For the first time since the establishment of the state, I've managed to secure American recognition [of our sovereignty rights], first on the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem, and then through an agreement that will facilitate American recognition in the areas of our homeland inside Judea and Samaria. These are [US President Donald] Trump's decisions, and the person who broached these matters with him was me. No one else."
Netanyahu: Palestinians in Israeli-annexed Jordan Valley won’t get citizenship
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview Thursday that Palestinians living under Israeli rule in an annexed Jordan Valley would not receive Israeli citizenship.

Palestinian towns and villages in the area will remain “Palestinian enclaves” under Palestinian rule but Israel security control, he explained.

These Palestinian residential areas, which some estimates say are home to 50,000-65,000 Palestinians, “will remain as Palestinian enclaves,” he told the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom. “You don’t annex [the Palestinian city of] Jericho [which has a population of some 20,000]. There are one or two groups [of Palestinian residential areas] where you don’t have to extend sovereignty; [their residents] will remain Palestinian subjects, but [overall Israeli] security control will apply there.”

In a separate interview Thursday, Netanyahu dismissed fears increasingly expressed by settlers leaders regarding the US peace plan’s vision for the West Bank, saying that the mapping process is ongoing and that they were criticizing elements of the plan that still haven’t been determined and published.

Speaking to the right-wing Makor Rishon newspaper, Netanyahu said he didn’t believe Jordan would annul the peace accord if Israel goes forward with his declared plan to annex some West Bank land including the Jordan Valley, and said any settlement construction freeze as part of the Trump plan would also apply to Palestinians in Area C — which is controlled by Israel.

Netanyahu said he was committed to extending Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank in July, after a joint Israeli-US team completes a process of mapping the exact vision for the future of the territory based on a conceptual map released by US President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year.
Former Peace Envoy Greenblatt: "Door to Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Remains Open"
Jason Greenblatt, the architect of the U.S. Middle East peace vision, says peace is still possible if Palestinians abandon their rejection of the plan and negotiate with Israel. Greenblatt said, "The door to the White House to negotiate a peace agreement will remain open." But if the Palestinians wait too long "and annexation happens, then it happens."

"How sad that the Palestinian leadership won't even engage and see if there is something in this plan that they can help shape differently....But to refuse to engage and see if you can make it better, to simply say these are my deal points and these are the only deal points that I will accept, no deal is going to happen that way and Israel will thrive and prosper and unfortunately the Palestinians will fall further and further behind. And that is a tragedy."

"We can no longer let the Palestinian Authority have a veto on Israel's progress. I wish we could no longer let the Palestinian Authority have veto on Palestinian progress, but that is out of our hands....What they are asking for is not achievable and what they are asking for, in our view, is not grounded in rights."
Scaremongering about sovereignty
Remember the dark days of 2014, when Israel’s foreign relations supposedly were “crashing,” when the international diplomatic noose purportedly was tightening around Israel’s neck?

That was because of the looming Western boycott of Israel. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was everywhere and overwhelming, we were told. Every day, almost every hour, Israel’s then-chief peace negotiator, Tzipi Livni, wailed about Israel’s impending isolation.

According to Livni, Israel was about to be hit with unprecedented diplomatic, economic and academic chill, with severe repercussions for business and prosperity, unless, of course, Israel snapped quickly to Livni’s tune of withdrawal from the West Bank and conceded a state to the Palestinians.

Then-finance minister Yair Lapid chimed in too with a shabbily concocted report that confirmed Livni’s premonitions. The pocketbook of every Israeli was going to be hit hard, Lapid warned, by Western BDS activity, unless Israel scurried to then-US secretary of state John Kerry’s camp and hurried to cut a deal with the Palestinians.

In fact, the “threat” of a global boycott against Israel was so obsessively talked about those days that you might have thought it a greater threat than the growth of Iranian forces on Israel’s borders.

It turned out that this was manifest nonsense. The menace of BDS was deliberately overstated and wildly overestimated. It was largely an artificial threat manufactured by the Israeli Left and magnified 1,000 times over by media repetition.

No wonder that Kerry and other Western leaders took to sternly cautioning Israel about the consequences of a breakdown in Palestinian negotiations. Kerry was merely echoing what he heard from Livni and Lapid, who deliberately prophesied unsubstantiated doom and gloom in an attempt to scare the Israeli public into retreat and withdrawal.
Zionist Federation affiliate members slam chair over ‘wholly inappropriate’ annexation comments
Affiliate members of the Zionist Federation UK have criticised its chair in a letter over what they claim were “wholly inappropriate” comments on the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.

ZF chair Paul Charney claimed that “past attempts at negotiated settlement have failed due to Palestinian intransigence, leaving Israel with little option other than to take unilateral steps to secure its borders and its future for all its citizens.

“Israel is a democratic state, led by a democratically elected government, and annexation will not change this.”

In a letter to Mr Charney and ZF’s National Executive, a group of affiliated organisations accused the leadership of “misrepresenting” the views of its constituent bodies.

“The Zionist Federation does not have a mandate to formulate policy positions in response to events taking place in Israel or the wider Middle East, or to make statements on behalf of the organisations it claims to represent,” it said.

“When the leadership of the Zionist Federation make political statements about key issues in Israel, they undermine its credibility as a representative body, and overstep the remit of the organisation, misrepresenting its constituent bodies.”

It added that social media posts by the Zionist Federation “that appeared to pledge support for settlement throughout the entirety of Israel and the West Bank” had “no place in an organisation in which there are a broad range of opinions on this issue.”

The letter urged the National Council “to reflect on what is appropriate behaviour for individuals in positions of authority in the Zionist Federation and ensure that those entrusted into these positions carry out their duties appropriately.

Naftali Bennett: Trump peace plan map needs to change
As the international community is pressing Israel to back away from the Trump peace plan and its annexation intentions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a battle against right-wing politicians who want him to apply sovereignty to West Bank settlements while rejecting the Trump plan.

They are upset in particular by the Trump map, which they argue would lead to de facto building freezes and the destruction of at least 15 settlements.

Yamina Party head Naftali Bennett has long opposed the Trump plan because it also allows for the creations of a demilitarized Palestinian state. Bennett has long argued Israel must apply sovereignty to all of Area C, while the Trump plan allows Israel to annex only half of Area C, effectively 30% of the West Bank.

He had in the past said he would support any sovereignty plan that was good for Israel, including the Trump plan. Now that he has understood the Trump map, however, Bennett said he does not believe it is in Israel’s best interest.
PLO declares agreements with Israel have ended
Palestinian officials said on Wednesday they are planning to step up their efforts to thwart Israel’s intention to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, now that the Palestinians have “successfully” prevented the spread of the coronavirus.
Some officials expressed hope massive international pressure would force Israel to backtrack on its “unilateral” move.

“There’s room for optimism,” a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. “There’s a feeling that most of the world stands with us on the issue of annexation.”

The official was speaking as members of the PLO Executive Committee held further discussions in Ramallah to discuss ways of foiling the “annexation” plan.

Prior to the meeting, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian leadership was holding marathon discussions and intensive contacts with several countries to brief them on the “dangers” of the Israeli plan.
ICC Gives Palestinians Until June 10 to Clarify Status of Oslo Accords
The International Criminal Court in The Hague is requesting clarification from the Palestinian Authority regarding its recent announcement that all agreements with Israel and the United States had been annulled.

In a May 26 “Order requesting additional information,” a copy of which is available on the ICC website, the court’s pre-trial chamber asked the PA to clarify whether its announcement pertained to the Oslo Accords.

The request came on the heels of a speech that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas delivered in Ramallah on May 19, in which he stated: “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.”

Abbas made this declaration in response to Israel’s stated intention to proceed with the part of the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan that allows for the Jewish state to extend sovereignty in some of Judea and Samaria.

The pre-trial chamber is seeking to determine Abbas’s intention in relation to the 1993 Oslo Accords—the PLO treaty with Israel that established the PA—in an attempt to assess the status of the war-crimes case against Israel that its chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, threatened earlier this month to pursue.

According to the ICC document, the PA has until June 10 to respond. In the event that it meets this request, Bensouda is “ordered” and Israel is “invited” to respond no later than June 24.
'Next few weeks will determine whether future decades will see peace or bloodshed'
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has "spared no effort to salvage the [Israeli-Palestinian] peace process," Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday, adding he was confident that the Arab world would not allow Israel to execute its plan to apply sovereignty to large parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

He further said that Ramallah will "seek clarifications" over reports saying that many of the moderate Arab states will not challenge the Israeli plan.

"The next few weeks will determine whether the next decades will be ones of peace and coexistence or of violence and war," Erekat warned.

Arab sources told Israel Hayom Tuesday that while Arab leaders were concerned that the unilateral annexation of areas in the West Bank the Palestinians seek for a future state, would see the region plunged into a violent conflict, behind the scenes, moderate Arab leaders are in no rush to prevent Israel from pursuing the territorial bid.

The rulers of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states have all warned Israel that a unilateral sovereignty move would foster hostilities that could destabilize the region.

Jordan's King Abdullah even warned that the move would set Amman and Jerusalem on a collision course that may even jeopardize the peace treaty the two signed in 1994.

He further warned the move could hasten the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
Ramallah to ‘Seek Clarification’ on Arab Stance Regarding Israeli Sovereignty
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday that Ramallah will “seek clarifications” regarding reports that many of the moderate Arab states will not challenge Israel’s plan to apply its sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria.

The former chief Palestinian negotiator added that he was confident that the Arab world would not allow Israel to move forward with its sovereignty plan.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, said Erekat, has “spared no effort to salvage the [Israeli-Palestinian] peace process,”and “the next few weeks will determine whether the next decades will be ones of peace and coexistence or of violence and war.”

Arab sources told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that while Arab leaders were concerned that the unilateral annexation of areas in the West Bank the Palestinians seek for a future state, would see the region plunged into a violent conflict, behind the scenes, moderate Arab leaders are in no rush to prevent Israel from pursuing the territorial bid.

The rulers of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states have all warned Israel that a unilateral sovereignty move would foster hostilities that could destabilize the region.

Jordan’s King Abdullah even warned that the move would set Amman and Jerusalem on a collision course that may even jeopardize the peace treaty the two signed in 1994. He further warned the move could hasten the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

Still, senior officials in the moderate Arab countries made it clear that, despite the pan-Arab stance against the annexation plan, behind the scenes the move is not being challenged as forcibly as the Palestinians might hope.
PA Could Face Existential Threat If It Cuts Security Ties with Israel
The Palestinian Authority's security forces have ceased taking calls from the Israel Defense Forces and are not conducting security coordination with Israel, Israel's Channel 11 News reported on Monday, citing a senior Israeli defense source.

The development comes days after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that he is no longer obligated to uphold previous agreements with Israel, including security coordination, in response to declared intentions by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apply Israeli sovereignty in sections of Judea and Samaria.

"We've never been in a situation like this. There are no calls," the source told Channel 11 News. "But the Palestinians know well, like we do, that they can't live without us. The question is, how do they climb down from this tree?"

Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the founders of the security coordination between the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinian Authority, said on Monday that in the event that the PA continues with its cessation of contacts with Israel into the long-term future, it would place itself in existential danger.

"The PA's security forces conduct many arrests of Hamas operatives," said Elad, a lecturer at the Western Galilee College. "Last year, they shut down 300 organizations that had affiliations to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, other Islamists or ISIS. The PA closes down such organizations and institutions. Will they continue doing this? It's a given that they will," he said.

"If the PA fails to do this and gives breathing space to the Islamist organizations, the Islamists will fill that vacuum very quickly," he added.

Israel and the PA have a common interest in repressing Hamas in the West Bank; the PA benefits greatly from Israel's operations and intelligence capabilities used to prevent Hamas and PIJ from building an armed infrastructure.

"I believe that Abbas's maneuver is more declarative. I don't think he can keep this up over time because the PA has a strategic need for coordination with Israel. The chances the PA would be taking if they keep this up would be very big, including the risk of an armed coup against them. Hamas has a presence in the West Bank. Without Israel, it would grow stronger," said Elad.
Amid annexation plans, US warns its citizens against West Bank travel
As Israel continues to push US-backed plans to annex parts of the West Bank in July, Washington on Thursday issued a security alert advising its citizens to execute extra caution when traveling to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, anticipating potential violence.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem advised US citizens to “maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.”

It warned that “violence can occur with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, government checkpoints, markets and shopping facilities or government facilities.”

“US citizens should carefully consider risks to their personal safety and security when considering visits to sites and events that are potential targets,” it added.

The alert barred US government personnel from “engaging in personal travel to the West Bank, with the exception of the portions of Route 1, Route 443 and Route 90 that traverse the West Bank.” It said they were prohibited from traveling to Gaza.

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians earlier this week warned the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff and the defense minister of a potential wave of violence if the government follows through with its plans to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank.
Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Ends all Agreements with Gravity (satire)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he is cutting off all ties with gravity. Abbas introduced the new policy in a meandering address from his palace in Ramallah. The canceling of all agreements with gravity comes days after Abbas announced that he is cutting off all ties with Israel, the two moves are interpreted as part of the same larger policy.

“I think he’s really into making big announcements that he either can’t and won’t pull through with” said Omar Rahman who researches Palestinian politics. Rahman added that Abbas has threatened to cut off relations with Israel 476 times in the past “but this is the first time we have heard about gravity; I didn’t think the old man had any new ideas in him. I’m a bit surprised.”

Hamas announced that they like the idea of cutting off relations with gravity, but the militant group did not believe Abbas had the ability to get anything done. A Hamas spokesperson said that cutting off ties to gravity would give the group an ability “to absolve ourselves of responsibility when the Islamic Jihad fires a rocket, if we have no relations with gravity how can we launch rockets?”

Similarly, the Islamic Jihad supported severing ties with one of physics’ most basic laws. “We have a lot of really embarrassing rocket launches. If we have no relations with gravity, that’s a pretty good excuse” said a spokesperson for the terror organization.
Reuters’ Annual Arabic Press Release on Behalf of Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
Continuing a longstanding tradition, Reuters Arabic’s coverage this month of the annual “conditions of the Palestinian people” report released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reads more like a press release for the Palestinian agency than a news report by an independent international news agency.

The Palestinian Authority’s PCBS publishes its report every year in anticipation of Nakba Day on May 15, the date that Palestinians mark as the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding.

But the annual affair is of dubious newsworthiness. Indeed, the journalistic value of Reuters’ consistent coverage of the annual PCBS report, year after year, is highly questionable at best (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013). Only two figures in Reuters’ 2020 coverage – those concerning the total population of Palestinians and the current number of “Palestinian refugees” – concern 2019. PCBS’s announcement also includes two 2018 figures, which Reuters had not previously reported last year. The rest of the material, which constitutes the overwhelming bulk of the report, concerns 1948 events and their aftermath. Reuters’ West Bank reporters have been covering the PCBS reports every single year since 2013 in much the same way, primarily rehashing the exact same material, in much the same language, concerning events from decades ago, and including minimal material on current data.

For instance, on a consistent basis, Reuters’ yearly article about the PCBS publication alleges, by directly quoting the unchallenged PCBS claim, that “the uprooting of 800,000 Palestinians” was carried out “from their villages and cities, out of 1.4 million Palestinians who, in 1948, resided across historical Palestine in 1300 Palestinian villages and towns.” Nearly identical quote and figures appear in Reuters’ 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016 and 2015 reports.

Recycled over many years are also the claims that “The process of this [ethnic] cleansing was accompanied with the Zionist gangs perpetrating more than 70 massacres against the Palestinians, creating more than 15,000 martyrs,” and that “During the Nakba phase, the Israeli occupation took control over 774 Palestinian villages, 534 of which were completely destroyed while the rest was subjugated to the occupying entity and its laws.” Both claims appear in all of Reuters’s coverage from 2013 to 2020 with the exception of 2018.
Germany: U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell's Legacy of Success
Richard Grenell arguably has done more than any other American official, with the possible exception of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, to call out the duplicity, hypocrisy and recklessness of Germany's foreign policy establishment.

Closely related to the defense spending issue is Germany's increasing energy dependency on Russia.... while the United States is spending billions of dollars annually to defend Europe against growing threats from Russia, German energy policies are increasing Russia's grip over Europe.

Grenell's greatest achievement during his roughly two years as ambassador was his tireless pursuit of the American interest and his unwillingness to appease Germany's anti-American establishment.

On April 30, 2020, after years of equivocating, the German government announced a compromise measure between German lawmakers who want to take a harder line against Iran and those who do not. The ban falls far short of a complete prohibition on Hezbollah and appears aimed at providing the German government with political cover that allows Berlin to claim that it has banned the group even if it has not.

"With @RichardGrenell, Germany is losing one of the best US Ambassadors to our country ever. Whether it was pressure to stop NordStream2, rethink German-Iranian regime (love) affairs or increase our defense expenditure - he was always on point and acting in the best interest of the United States and Germany. THANKS SO MUCH!" — Julian Röpke, political editor of Bild, Germany's largest newspaper
Jewish, pro-Israel groups laud US ambassador to Germany as he leaves post
Pro-Israel Jewish groups expressed appreciation to U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as he is expected to step down from his role, which he assumed two years ago in May 2018.

The move follows the confirmation last week of former Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) as U.S. director of national intelligence, a position Grenell briefly held on an acting basis in conjunction with his ambassadorship and his role as U.S. special envoy for Serbia-Kosovo negotiations, which he will reportedly keep.

“We appreciate Ambassador Grenell’s service to our country and for standing with our ally Israel on the international stage against the threat posed by the Iranian regime and its proxies,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JNS.

“As ambassador, [he] has been a strong and clear voice against anti-Semitism in Europe, and in calling out the Iranian regime’s hegemonism and sponsorship of terrorist groups,” B’nai B’rith International CEO Dan Mariaschin said to JNS. “We are grateful for his work in Germany, including his successful push for the German government to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”
Ruthie Blum: Right from wrong: Why we want Netanyahu’s trial televised
With few exceptions, the Israeli press is none too fond of Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. The feeling, as a result, is mutual, with very good reason.

Acting as judge, jury and executioner, the country’s media outlets have not even tried to conceal their long-standing desire to see his dust. Imagine their delight, then, when the judicial system provided them with the perfect cover for their unbridled lack of neutrality and blatant partisanship.

Not that readers or viewers really believe that journalists are unbiased. More to the point, most people these days – including publishers, editors and reporters – seem have a hard time telling the difference between news, analysis and opinion.
Nor would this be the least bit of a problem if each outlet acknowledged its slant. There is no shame in having and promoting a worldview, after all. No, the disgrace lies in the pretense. And left-wing reporters are full of it, so to speak, which is why Netanyahu is a perfect target for them.

It is not his party, voters or even the entire Right – they claim – that is at the root of their open aggression, but rather the man himself. Indeed, they tell themselves and everybody else, the very fact that he is under indictment on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust makes him fair game.

Never mind that Netanyahu, like every citizen in a democracy, is supposed to enjoy the presumption of innocence. The so-called “cloud” over his head is enough to demand that he disappear from the scene, if not the face of the Earth. The trouble is that huge swaths of the public clearly do not agree, and vote repeatedly with their feet to prove it.

There is one issue on which Netanyahu and his in-studio nemeses see eye-to-eye, however. Like him, they want his trial, which kicked off at the beginning of this week, to be broadcast live. They even submitted a formal request ahead of Sunday’s arraignment that it be televised. But for some reason, the Jerusalem District Court – where the arraignment took place and the rest of the trial will be held – nixed the idea.
Meir Ben-Shabbat makes decisions under pressure, with lives on the line
National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat is no stranger to tough situations.

A 30-year veteran of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Ben-Shabbat ran its highly touted intelligence operations in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.

He has also headed the agency’s Cyber Directorate, its National Directorate for Prevention of Terror and Espionage, Research and Policy, and – before becoming NSC head in 2017 – the Shin Bet’s entire Southern Division, including Gaza.

As a result, Ben-Shabbat knows how to make decisions under pressure with human lives on the line. He also knows how to work intensively for months on end.

Yet at a recent closed meeting, he said that the last 90 days – when by virtue of his position as NSC head he served as the country’s coordinator of efforts to fight the coronavirus – were the hardest of his life.

This was not because of the intensity of the work, the difficult decisions that had to be made, nor because he had to coordinate between the health system, the intelligence community, the Finance Ministry and the legal system. Rather, the days were so difficult because they involved a crisis of a completely different kind, where the enemy was largely unknown and there was so much at stake: the physical and economic health of the country, and the fate of the most vulnerable segments of its population.
i24: Israel's Lebanese Soldiers

Cameraman who criticized PA fired from Associated Press
Eyad Hamad, a veteran Palestinian cameraman, said on Wednesday that he was fired from the Associated Press (AP) after the Palestinian Authority filed a “complaint” against him.

Hamad, 63, a resident of Bethlehem, told The Jerusalem Post that the complaint was filed against him because he had criticized the Palestinian security forces for arresting and beating a Palestinian journalist.

Hamad and several Palestinian journalists expressed outrage over the AP decision. They said they were planning a series of protests against the international news agency in the coming days.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate issued a statement in which it condemned the "arbitrary dismissal" of the cameraman. The syndicate called on AP to revoke its "unfair and unjust decision."

“I have been working for AP for 20 years,” he said. “I covered many events in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and a number of Arab countries. The decision came as a surprise to me and my colleagues.”

Hamad said he believed the decision to fire him came after he and several Palestinian journalists launched a campaign to demand the release of Anas Hawwari, a Palestinian journalist recently arrested by the PA security forces.

Because of the campaign, Hamad said, he received threats from PA security officials who told him that they would see to it that he gets fired from AP.

MEMRI: Iraqi TV Discussion about Flying Rainbow Flag at EU Embassy in Baghdad: This Is Cultural Invasion
On May 17, 2020, Al-Nujaba TV (Iraq) aired a discussion about flying the rainbow flag at the EU Embassy in Baghdad. Iraqi researcher Jomaa Al-Atwani said that Iraq is fighting a battle against a “cultural invasion,” that Iraq’s religious leaders are being targeted by minions of America and the West, and that “Joker gangs,” homosexuals, and their “emo types” have been declaring that nothing is sacred. He also criticized the U.S. for giving rights to homosexuals, who he said transgress the laws of nature. In addition, Al-Atwani said that the American Embassy sends Iraqi students to the U.S. in order to teach them “sex culture,” so that they return to Iraq “charged up.” He added that this danger must be confronted immediately because within a few decades, Iraqi families may not be able to prevent their children from practicing “deviant activity”. Furthermore, Iraqi political analyst Wael Al-Rikaby said that all the countries that agreed that the rainbow flag should be flown at the EU Embassy in Baghdad should apologize to the Iraqi people. He also said that homosexuals are outcasts who are rejected by their families.

US to end sanctions
waivers allowing some work at Iran nuclear sites

The United States said on Wednesday it will terminate sanctions waivers that had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out work originally designed to make it harder for Iranian nuclear sites to be used for weapons development.

The waivers, which officials said expire on July 27, covered the conversion of Iran's Arak heavy water research reactor, the provision of enriched uranium for its Tehran Research Reactor and the transfer of spent and scrap reactor fuel abroad.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave no precise justification for the move, which will halt some work originally designed to make it more difficult for Iran to potentially develop fissile material for nuclear bombs.

However, Pompeo said Washington would extend for 90 days a waiver allowing foreign work at a Russian-built nuclear power plant at Bushehr to ensure safety.

The wider decision seemed aimed at tightening the US "maximum pressure" policy applied since Washington abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal two years ago. That deal eased economic sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

"Because of our pressure, Iran's leaders are facing a decision: either negotiate with us or manage economic collapse," US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters.

Since the US withdrawal and the revival of US sanctions to cut Iran's oil exports, Tehran has boosted its nuclear work in what analysts see as an effort to change US policy or increase Iranian leverage in any negotiation.

"The Iranian regime has continued its nuclear brinkmanship by expanding proliferation-sensitive activities," Pompeo said, adding this "will lead to increased pressure on Iran."

U.S. gives Iran a choice: Negotiate or manage economic collapse
U.S. President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy is giving Iran a choice between negotiating with the United States or managing the economic collapse caused by U.S. sanctions, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said on Wednesday.

“Because of our pressure, Iran’s leaders are facing a decision: Either negotiate with us or manage economic collapse,” Hook told reporters during a conference call.

Israeli Cyber Czar Warns of More Attacks from Iran
Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) chief Yigal Unna said Wednesday that in April 2020 Israel faced a "synchronized and organized attack" targeting civilian water infrastructure.

He noted that when various chemicals are mixed with water in the wrong proportions - which could happen due to a hack - it "can be harmful and disastrous."

The attack was "very directly aiming to cause damage in real life in the real arena through...ICS [Industrial Control Systems] controllers, something that could have caused a lot of damage."

"This is the first time we can see something like that aiming to cause damage to real life...not to data."

"It wasn't one or two controllers. It was a... wide spectrum of attacks aiming specifically at energy and water, and the only reason it failed was...our efforts, the INCD preparedness."

"We managed to mitigate it and overcome it, but I'm afraid it's only the sign of the first major attack of a new era, on humanitarian targets.... The level of attacks will probably get more sophisticated and deadlier."

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