Tuesday, June 23, 2020

From Ian:

Friedman to Democrats: Palestinian Authority needs to condemn terror
Israelis condemn violence by their own against Palestinians, but the Palestinian Authority does not do the same, US Ambassador David Friedman wrote in a letter to Democratic members of Congress on Monday.

"In the three years that I have served in this position," Friedman wrote, "I have observed far too many murders of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists where the Palestinian leadership has failed to condemn these acts."

Friedman pointed out that Hamas openly celebrates terrorism, while "the so-called moderate" Palestinian Authority pays terrorists a regular stipend.

The Palestinian Authority paid NIS 517.4 million ($150.5m.) in salaries to terrorists in prison and released prisoners in 2019.
"In contrast, in the less frequent circumstance of a violent crime by an Israeli against a Palestinian, the act is condemned by the Israeli government and virtually the entire population of the State of Israel," Friedman wrote.

The ambassador's remarks came in response to a letter from over 50 members of Congress from the Democratic Party sent to him earlier this month, calling on him to denounce violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians. The J Street-supported letter was initiated by Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), and among its signatories are major Israel critics in Congress, such as Betty McCollum (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN)

Friedman noted in his response that the letter did not call on him to denounce Palestinian terror against Israelis.
Top House Republicans Back Netanyahu as He Pushes to Annex West Bank Territory
A delegation of congressional Republicans wrote to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to express its support for the Israeli leader's decision to annex portions of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, saying Israel has the right to execute any policy it sees as integral to its security.

One-hundred-sixteen Republicans led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and other senior lawmakers told Netanyahu that they fully support Israel's move, which would see the country take over several contested territories long-controlled by the Palestinians. Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to take this step early next month.

"We are aware of and deeply concerned by threats being expressed by some to retaliate against Israel as it makes decisions to ensure defensible borders," the lawmakers wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "It is shortsighted to threaten relations with Israel, a long-time friend and critical ally that shares our democratic values."

Democratic lawmakers are frustrated by the decision to send the letter. They recently warned Israel that such a move would fray the historically close ties between the United States and Israel. Congressional Republicans, however, flatly reject this view.

The letter highlights a growing partisan schism in Washington over the Israeli government's policies under Netanyahu. While the Trump administration and its Republican allies in Congress have been a reliable partner for the conservative Israeli prime minister, Democrats have become increasingly frustrated over moves they see as damaging to the peace process and U.S. relations with the Jewish state.

The GOP lawmakers expressed in their letter support for the Trump administration's recently unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which has inflamed tensions in the region and has been rejected by the Palestinian leadership.

"We assure you that we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and oppose any effort to apply pressure," the lawmakers wrote.

The White House has not publicly commented on the annexation plan yet and is likely waiting to see how Netanyahu proceeds in the coming days.
IDF generals urge Trump to stand behind Netanyahu’s sovereignty plan
A group of IDF generals has written a letter to US President Donald Trump urging him to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s annexation plan to apply sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.

The group, known as habit'honistim – Protectors of Israel – holds that the plan offers Israel an unparalleled security opportunity to place 30% of the West Bank within Israel’s permanent borders.

“Your farsighted vision for peace, which includes a recognition of Israel’s sovereign rights in Judea and Samaria – the cradle of Jewish civilization – has put wind in the wings of thousands of Israel Defense Force officers and warriors and buffeted the sails of the Israeli nation as a whole,” the group wrote.

“Mr. President, thanks to your friendship and visionary leadership, we stand now at an historic crossroad in the 4,000-year history of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel,” it continued.

“We trust that you will continue to work to secure the future peace of the people of Israel and of the Middle East as a whole by standing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he applies our sovereignty to our eastern frontier, the Jordan Valley and to our cities, villages and farms in Judea and Samaria in accordance with your visionary peace plan,” the group said.

“As God Almighty said to Joshua as he stood before the Jordan River, poised to lead the Nation of Israel to the Promised Land, so we say to you today: “Be strong and of good courage,” they wrote.

The idea of Israeli sovereignty over 30% of the West Bank, including all of the settlements, is already incorporated into Trump's peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Putting the Judea back into Judeo-Christian Civilization
Jerusalem was built by King David as a common political symbol unifying twelve tribes into one nation. The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican attempted to copy the Solomonic first Temple of Jerusalem for this very reason (to unify Christendom around that structure as part of the Basilica of Paul). The creation of Washington, DC as the capital of the new-born United States consciously tapped the precedent of David’s Jerusalem. King David chose neutral territory between the 12 tribes, and then employed the physical founding of Jerusalem to unify those tribes politically. Similarly, the United States’ founders determined to use the neutral territory of Washington DC to unify the 13 quarreling colonies into one nation.

The willingness by many since the interwar period to write off the original Jerusalem as lost to Islam– something the framers of the League of Nations Mandate could not have imagined or countenanced since they were still men of faith — was itself a reflection of the beginning of the erosion of Western civilization. Erasing old Jerusalem of all meaning and surrendering it to the non-Western world while trying to build the new Jerusalem modeled upon it ultimately was untenable. The non-Western world understood this, which is precisely why the city was always strategically understood by our enemies as too dangerous a symbol to allow its being restored to the West through the agency of Israel. For many in the Middle East who seek the West ill, the continued Islamic domination of Jerusalem was a necessary sign of Christendom’s and Judaism’s fallen favor with the divine. Ironically, even Muslim nations who understand their fate is tied to the power of the West now tolerate, but not necessarily relish, the formal return of Jerusalem to Western hands.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, President Trump started restoring the American story. He struck a deep chord with communities of faith who firmly believed Jerusalem was never just another city for early American colonialists and post-revolutionary war Americans. For communities of faith, the President tapped into a tradition running from the early settlers to President Reagan that America itself was “the new Jerusalem” — a deeply cherished vision of a city on the hill living in our imaginations as a beacon for our own soul.

In this context, the coming recognition of Israeli sovereignty in additional parts of the Judean and Samarian heartland, would reaffirm and deepen the catalytic nature of what recognizing Jerusalem was. It would place the recognition of Jerusalem in context as a turning point in a broader strategy to reassert and firm up the foundations of Western idea rather than as an aberration.

Those foundations of American society are wobbling dangerously. Ideas animating three millennia of Western thought are under siege internally as well as externally. Our young believe socialism is as valid a system as capitalism. They are taught in our educational structures to reject Western history – Athens, Rome and Jerusalem alike — and obsessively focus on the flaws and growing pains of the early republic to the exclusion of recording the vast brilliance of what was launched. Now, our youth seem to be at ease supporting anarchy, nihilism and lawlessness. When the President holds up the Bible to stand down the protestors, to recognize Jerusalem, and to bring parts of the Judean heartland back into Judeo-Christian culture, he is concretely shoring up American greatness by re-asserting the foundations its western civilization. He is putting the Judea back into Judeo-Christian culture. The communities of faith and several historians understand this, and thus their support of President Trump is deeper and more determined than other past Republican presidents since Reagan.
Daniel Pipes: Jerusalem, Jordan, and the Jews
There are just a few problems with this account. The Arab (or more accurately, Arabian) identity does not go back 5,000 years; even 3,000 stretches the record. The Canaanites were not Arabians. The ancient Jews did a little bit more than "attack, kill and destroy everyone and everything they could"; does one really have to point out that the Bible they wrote serves as the basis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, whose adherents make up over half the world's population?

And while DNA evidence shows that descendants of the Canaanites in Palestine survive throughout the Middle East, the great majority of its Muslims and Christians descend from immigrants. Writing in 1911, before the many twentieth-century immigrations, Irish archeologist Robert Macalister already listed 19 foreign ethnicities in addition to native farmers and Jews in Palestine: Algerian, Arabian, Armenian, Assyrian, Bosnian, Circassian, Crusader, German, Greek, Italian, Kurd, Motawila, Nawar, Persian, Roman, Samaritan, Sudanese, Turkic, and Turkoman.

How disappointing that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which wishes to be seen as responsible and moderate, publishes such twaddle in a purported scholarly study. It is the more dismaying when one recalls that King Abdullah II, Jordan's ruler since 1999, has taken a brave and forthright stand against Islamists, denouncing them as "religious totalitarians … who seek power by intimidation, violence and thuggery." He has also called for "a dynamic, moderate Islam – an Islam that upholds the sanctity of human life, reaches out to the oppressed, respects men and women alike, and insists on the fellowship of all humankind." An Islamist-style white paper applauded by a Palestinian anti-Zionist substantially undercuts these bold words.

The white paper promotes a familiar Islamic imperialism. Other recent examples include Recep Tayyip ErdoฤŸan's government insisting that the Hagia Sophia Cathedral was originally a mosque; Muslims pressing to use the Cordoba Cathedral as a mosque; and the so-called Ground-Zero Mosque near the obliterated World Trade Center in New York City.

Ironically, the English-language Hashemite Custodianship meant for international consumption distorts history more than Arabic materials intended for locals. For example, Jordan's Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs only asserts Arabs founded Jerusalem 5,000 years ago without the nasty corollary that Jews "attacked, killed and destroyed everyone and everything they could."

The Jordanian government can and should do better. If falsifying ancient history seems like a small matter, it is not; such errors form opinions, shape governments, and potentially lead to renewed hostilities.

Where are the historians and theologians to denounce these falsehoods? Where are the friends of Jordan to urge a responsible course? Where are the Israelis, inhibited by an ever-present mistress syndrome, to protest this calumny?
'Jordan, Egypt will only symbolically condemn Israeli sovereignty initiative'
Although it still wasn't clear whether Israel will declare sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria on July 1, talks between Israel and moderate Sunni countries were continuing in earnest behind the scenes.

Senior Arab diplomatic officials, along with senior defense and intelligence officials in Egypt and Jordan, confirmed to Israel Hayom on Monday that over the past several weeks – ahead of the planned implementation of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and Jordan Valley – intensive diplomatic activity was taking place between Israel and moderate Arab countries. The purpose of these diplomatic efforts was to reach an agreement on the nature and scope of the response from Sunni Arab countries, chief among them Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel – if and when Israel applies sovereignty.

According to those Arab officials, senior intelligence and defense officials were engaging in the talks under a heavy veil of secrecy.

One senior Arab diplomat said Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and the head of Egypt's General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamal were spearheading the talks, and that in recent meetings agreed that Israel would implement its sovereignty plan while Arab countries would voice their formal objections to the initiative – without significantly damaging diplomatic relations between the countries.

A senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom this week that Palestinian concerns about the nature of Cairo's response to Israel's sovereignty bid were justified because Cohen and Kamal have already agreed in principle over the scope and tone of Egypt's response. Egyptian defense officials have even been able to persuade their Jordanian counterparts to recommend to Jordanian King Abdullah II to suffice with declarative condemnation of the Israeli initiative and eschew operative steps that would harm the peace accord with Israel.

Another senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom: "Egyptian involvement in Libya, amid the security developments there, is a much greater priority than the Palestinian issue and the interests of [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas], who hastily turned to Turkey, which is scheming against us in Libya, and asked it to spearhead a comprehensive Arab struggle against the Israeli sovereignty plan. Abbas' request to [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan sparked anger not only in Egypt but in Jordan as well."

This statement reflects the depth of Egyptian-Jordanian cooperation and coordination, not just in Libya but also on the Palestinian issue.
Gantz on annexation: Israel won't continue to wait for the Palestinians
With a week to go until the earliest date Israel can apply its sovereignty to portions of the West Bank, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz warned on Tuesday that there will be security consequences whether or not Israel makes the move.

According to Gantz, US President Donald Trump’s peace plan is “the first to look at what’s happening on the ground in a realistic way,” but “what we will do will have consequences, and what we will not do will also have consequences.”

A source familiar with Gantz’s thinking on the matter said moves towards annexation could be what breaks the long-term political stagnation between Israel and the Palestinians, which is also one of the core ideas behind the Trump peace plan.

If the Palestinians choose not to take part in the talks with Israel about the annexation, “then we will have to move forward without them,” he said.

“We won’t get into Palestinian deep sh*t,” Gantz said. “The Palestinians continue to reject dialogue and to remain in their ‘deep sh*t.’”

“We need to not only manage the conflict but also shape it,” the defense minister said, adding that “we will work to reduce as much as possible the danger of turning the State of Israel into a bi-national state while making sure that Israel remains in control of its security.”
US mulling phased annexation, starting with areas close to Jerusalem – report
Concerned about the collateral damage that could follow from allowing Israel to move ahead with its planned annexation of areas of the West Bank, Washington is reportedly considering backing the annexation of only of a handful of settlements close to Jerusalem.

Officials in the Trump administration are set to hold a decisive meeting this week on whether to approve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared plan to start annexing the 132 West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley — the 30 percent of the territory allocated to Israel under the administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Netanyahu has vowed to begin the process as early as July 1. However, US enthusiasm for such a move appeared to cool amid vociferous opposition from American allies in the Middle East.

“Ultimately, as the team approaches this thought of annexation, the main thing going through our heads is, ‘Does this in fact help advance the cause of peace?’ And therefore that is what will help drive a lot of the discussion,” a senior Trump administration official told Reuters in a report Monday evening.

Rather than back Netanyahu’s broad annexation plan, the administration is looking at other options, including a staged process in which Israel would start by declaring sovereignty only over several settlements in the Jerusalem area, the report said, citing an unnamed source.

The official noted that Washington has not ruled out Netanyahu’s larger annexation vision but is concerned that a large-scale, rapid, unilateral move by Israel could seal off any chance that the Palestinians may agree to discuss Trump’s peace plan, unveiled in January.

The administration is also worried about increasing opposition to annexation coming from Jordan and US-allied Gulf States that have been unobtrusively building ties with Israel, the source explained.

EU, UN officials attend Fatah-sponsored anti-annexation rally
Hundreds of Palestinians attended a rally in Jericho on Monday to protest Israel’s intention to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

The rally marked the beginning of a series of protests planned by the ruling Fatah faction in the coming days to voice their opposition to Israel’s annexation plan.

This was the first major protest in the West Bank after weeks of apathy among the Palestinian public towards the Israeli plan. On Sunday, Fatah called on Palestinians to converge on Jericho to take part in the anti-annexation protest.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, head of the EU Representative Office to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, and diplomats from several countries, including Britain, China, Russia, Japan, and Jordan also attended the rally.

PA, PLO and Fatah officials also attended the rally.

Addressing the rally, Mladenov and Burgsdorff said that the planned annexation of parts of the West Bank was in violation of international law.

Burgsdorff said that the EU does not recognize Israeli sovereignty on any part of the pre-1967 lines, including the West Bank and east Jerusalem. He warned that the annexation, if implemented, would undermine the chances of reaching a two-state solution.

UN official: Mladenov didn't claim Ashkenazi is thwarting annexation
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov was not the source for the Army Radio story claiming that Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi was working behind the scenes to thwart Israel’s annexation plan, a UN official told The Jerusalem Post.

According to Army Radio, a senior UN source said that Ashkenazi was working together with the Foreign Ministry behind the scenes to halt any annexation efforts. Mladenov is the most senior UN official stationed in Israel and the Palestinian territories. He is also the lead official in this region when it comes to issues regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An official in his office clarified that “those comments were not made by the special coordinator [Mladenov].”

The Army Radio report comes amid a split between Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regard to the plan.

Netanyahu wants to move forward with the full 30% allowed him under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan. Gantz wants to annex only a small area, preferably something in the blocs, with an eye toward quelling moderate Arab opposition. He also wants to execute any plan in coordination with the US and in dialogue with Israel’s neighbors.

Gantz and Ashkenazi also appear to lack clear consensus between them, with Ashkenazi putting forward more objections than Gantz.

Both Gantz and Ashkenazi have spoken of the importance of good relations with Jordan and Egypt. Jordan has warned that any annexation efforts would harm ties with Israel, including destroying the 1994 peace agreement between them.

Israel to Annex CHAZ Instead of West Bank (satire)
After months of speculation about the nature of Israel’s looming annexation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shocked the world. Instead of annexing the West Bank, Israel will formally take control of an area in Seattle known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, told The Mideast Beast that the decision to annex the neighborhood was influenced by a few factors, “We had to annex something after all those promises, and it had to be by July 1st, but we found out that absolutely no one in Israel, even the settlers, supported the annexation of the West Bank.”

Dermer said that CHAZ has a lot in common with the Palestinian Territories, and that the protesters in Capitol Hill Zone are similar to the Palestinians. “CHAZ, like Palestine, is a recently made-up artificial entity. After one person was killed there over the weekend, we feel that we have a security argument for taking it over and doing whatever the hell we want with it,” he said.

The Trump administration welcomed the announcement. President Trump celebrated the news by tweeting a picture of Sheldon Adelson throwing George Soros out of a wrestling match with the caption: “The very strong, very Jewish people — not the nerdy ones that vote loser Democrat! — with the help of my good friends Bibi and Sheldon, are going to take over the Soros-funded CHAZ!! When the shooting starts, the annexing starts!”

MEPs call for further investigations into EU funding of Palestinian terror
European Parliamentarians have called for a thorough investigation into how European taxpayers’ money is ending up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists, insisting during a meeting on Tuesday that any loopholes in the law through which the money is slipping must be closed.

“It should absolutely not happen that European taxpayers’ money lead to attacks on Israel,” Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen said at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday morning. He was joined by Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, who said, “If and where loopholes exist in EU counter-terrorism financing legislation, they must be closed immediately.”

Both MEPs are members of parties who sit within the Conservative and Reformists Group in the European Parliament.

Their comments were delivered during a meeting in Brussels hosted by Ruissen in his capacity as chair of the EU Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus. Attendees heard from Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), who presented the findings of his organization’s recent research paper titled, “Two loopholes in EU anti-terror laws and regulations.”
What is Israel’s Next Move as Turks and Saudis Duel Over Jerusalem?
The Saudis and the Jordanians are united in their battle against the Turks, Qataris and the Muslim Brotherhood, which are all trying to take over the Temple Mount.

‘It would not serve a good purpose for Israel’

Asked what Israel’s policy should be on this issue, Rhode suggested that “Israel stay out of this Muslim battle and not publicly take sides, meaning, do what Israel did in Syria: Take no side in the Syrian civil war, but only intervene when Israeli interests are at stake.”

Because if Israel says anything in favor of the Saudis and Jordanians, the Turks, Qataris and other Muslim Brotherhood activists “would accuse the Saudis and Jordanians of being Zionist stooges.”

Wurmser asserted that letting the Saudis, Jordanians, Turks and Qataris battle it out is not a bad idea in principle, though it depends on how it would be played out in reality. “If the battle is perceived by the Saudis and Turks as a battle over the ruins of Israel, and that it would accelerate its marginalization and eventual surrender, then it would not serve a good purpose for Israel,” he said.

However, added Wurmser, “if Israel would take a strong role as judge in the dispute by being the power broker, then this would put Israel in a position of power.”

The former US official said this is also how the United States needs to approach its role in the Middle East so as not to be marginalized and lose its influence.

Therefore, he noted, Israel needs to take a strong position and not surrender Jerusalem to the Muslims. He suggested that when Israel is invested in a side publicly, “then that side can hold it hostage such as what Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas does.”

Abbas frequently threatens to cut ties with Israel and stop security cooperation even though he never follows through, said Wurmser, yet “it makes Israel appear weak and without leverage in the situation.”
Driver tries to ram cops near Jerusalem, is shot and killed — police
A Palestinian man was shot and killed while attempting to run over Border Police officers with his car in the West Bank Tuesday afternoon, Israeli police said.

Police said in a statement that the incident, which took place in the West Bank town of Abu Dis east of Jerusalem, appeared to be a deliberate attack.

One Border Police officer was lightly injured while leaping out of the way and taken to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment.

The driver, identified in reports as a Palestinian man, was initially listed in serious condition but authorities later said he died of his injuries.

Palestinian media identified the driver as Ahmad Mustafa Erekat, 27, and claimed that he was traveling to Bethlehem on his sister’s wedding day to help his mother and sisters prepare for the wedding.

The man “drove his vehicle quickly towards the direction of a female border police officer who was injured lightly,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The incident took place days before a possible Israeli annexation of some as-yet unspecified portion of the West Bank, as the Israel Defense Forces prepared for a wide range of scenarios for potential regional fallout — up to and including a large-scale wave of terror attacks.
Detained Lebanese woman accused of dealing with Israel
A Lebanese political activist who was detained last week was charged on Monday with collaborating with Israel and referred to a military prosecutor, Lebanon's state-run news agency reported.

The National News Agency said Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Fadi Akiki charged Kinda El-Khatib with visiting Israel and "dealing with spies of the Israeli enemy." The report added that the judge referred El-Khatib to a military investigative judge for questioning. The military judge is expected to issue a formal arrest warrant.

Lebanon and Israel are in a state of war and each bans its citizens from visiting the other country.

El-Khatib was detained last week with her brother, who was later released. According to local media reports, she had visited Israel by crossing from Jordan.

She has been active on social media, where she harshly criticized Lebanon's terrorist Hezbollah group and its strong ally, Lebanese President Michel Aoun. Hezbollah and Israel fought a monthlong war in 2006.

Shortly before the charges were filed Monday, dozens rallied in Beirut demanding El-Khatib's release and saying that she was innocent.

Palestinian Views on War and Peace with Israel
In recent years, Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank/East Jerusalem have generally become both more pessimistic and less reconciled to the prospect of peace with Israel. In recent years, popular backing for a two-state solution has become a minority view, while in earlier years the division was 60-40 in favor. Messaging from both Fatah and Hamas emphasizes their claim to "all of historic Palestine" - meaning the end of Israel as a separate state.

At the same time, majorities increasingly say that a two-state solution should not mean the end of conflict with Israel. Rather, 60% would opt to continue the struggle to "liberate all of historic Palestine." The same proportion also says that any compromise with Israel should be only temporary. Moreover, large majorities deny that Jews have any connection or rights to any land in historic Palestine.

Majorities support specific forms of economic cooperation with Israel even now. Majorities even support resuming negotiations with Israel without preconditions. And they opposed their own governments' diplomatic boycott of Washington and preemptive rejection of the U.S. peace plan. The public is split over continuing bonus payments to prisoners, rather than united behind this policy, as Palestinian officials claim.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas hints terror attacks would stop annexation
One day after the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction held a rally in Jericho to protest Israel’s intention to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, Hamas on Monday called on Palestinians to “activate all the tools of the resistance” to thwart the annexation plan.
Hamas’s appeal is seen by some Palestinians as a call for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel.

While Fatah and the Palestinian Authority have called for “peaceful resistance” against the planned annexation, Hamas and other extremist groups insist that the Palestinians must resort to all forms of “resistance,” including terrorist attacks.

Addressing the Palestinians, Hamas said: “Let’s rise, let’s launch a popular revolution everywhere so that the enemy would know that there are men in Palestine and heroes in our nation who will protect the land, the people and the holy shrines and repel this enemy.”

Hamas said in a statement issued in the Gaza Strip that a “massive popular revolution and activating all the tools of the resistance are sufficient to end the Zionist aggression and stop the international conspiracy” against the Palestinians.

Hamas warned that the Israeli plan was a “conspiracy woven by the Zionist occupation, the American administration and some Arab conspirators against the Palestinian people.”

Hamas called for “active and powerful participation in all activities and events against the annexation decision,” adding that it was a “religious, moral and patriotic duty” to protest the plan.
Knesset Committee Approves 17% Discount to UN Group Supplying Fuel to Gaza
The Finance Committee, chaired by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), on Monday approved regulations extending the exemption from the 17% Value Added Tax given to “international aid organizations which have been recognized by the Director General of the Finance Ministry and the Defense Ministry,” provided that the types of fuel and the amounts were approved by said directors general prior to their purchase.

A change the Committee made in the regulations determines that the exemption for such organizations will require the approval of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), so that the eligible organizations will be supervised.

The ordinances are meant to regulate the activity of international aid organizations operating in Gaza, so that they will be exempt from VAT on the purchase of fuel.

Last week, Chairman Gafni postponed the vote on the exemption, over claims made by MKs that at least some of the organizations that would receive the tax exemption are hostile to the State of Israel. Gafni said he would hold the vote only after a debate of the consequences of approving or rejecting the tax exemption proposal.

During Monday’s discussion, the Finance Committee resolved the issue by determining that giving the exemption to any organization would require COGAT’s approval. A number of MKs objected to this arrangement, and demanded that a VAT exemption for any organization ​require the authorization of the Finance Committee.

British Authorities Issue Warning to Muslim Charity That Held Vigil for Assassinated Iranian General
British authorities have issued a warning to a charity organization after it held a vigil for an assassinated Iranian general.

Qassem Soleimani was the head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which runs the Islamic Republic’s global terror network.

He was killed in January in a US drone strike in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that, following Soleimani’s death, the Islamic Centre of England (ICE) held a vigil in his memory, during which one of the speakers called him “a great martyr.”

The group’s director Seyed Hashem Moosavi then praised Soleimani on ICE’s website.

In a press release issued on June 19, the UK government’s Charity Commission announced it had sent an official warning to ICE as it “found the trustees failed to discharge their legal duties towards the charity” because of the vigil.

“The event risked associating the charity with a speaker who may have committed an offense under the Terrorism Acts, as the speaker was filmed during the event appearing to praise and call for support for Soleimani,” the Commission said. “The trustees failed to intervene or provide a counter narrative.”
Iran’s regime escalates violent persecution of Baha’is
The Islamic Republic of Iran has ignited a new round of violent persecution toward the Baha’i minority religious group over the last month.

Bahรก’รญ World News Service (BWNS) reported on June 11 that “Baha’is in the provinces of Fars, South Khorasan, Mazandaran, Isfahan, Alborz, Kerman, Kermanshah, and Yazd have been arrested, summoned to court, tried, sentenced to jail or imprisoned, all under baseless accusations.”

BWNS said the violence targeting Baha’is is taking place “for no reason other than a deep-seated antagonism to the Baha’i faith and its teachings, which emphasize truthfulness, equality of men and women, safeguarding the rights of all people, and the harmony of science and religion.”

“The recent incidents have placed great pressures on so many families,” said Bani Dugal, the Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community, told the BWNS. “Subjecting them to the constant threat of imprisonment under these circumstances and emotional anguish
associated with it is yet another attempt to place greater strain on the community. And to do all this during a health crisis, at an alarmingly escalated rate without any justification whatsoever, is extremely cruel and outrageous.”

According to the BWNS article, “the Iranian authorities have escalated their persecution of the Baha’is, targeting at least 77 individuals across the country in recent weeks despite the present health crisis afflicting the country.”

Iran’s regime has engaged in widespread persecution of the Baha’i community before, including the murder of members of the Baha’i religion, since the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. Tehran enforces state-sponsored discrimination against the Baha’i community in all walks of life.

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