Friday, December 02, 2022

From Ian:

Welcome, Bibi: Blinken To Headline Anti-Israel J Street Conference
A State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon that Blinken’s engagement with anti-Israel groups like J Street is an "important part" of the agency’s mission.

"It is routine for the secretary of state to engage with different civil society groups representing a broad array of foreign policy interests, this is an important part of the State Department’s domestic outreach," the spokesman said.

While Blinken is not the first secretary of state to address a J Street conference—then-secretary John Kerry and then-vice president Joe Biden both spoke in 2016—the timing of his address is being viewed as highly symbolic. The Biden administration in December took the extraordinary step of launching a Justice Department investigation into the shooting of a Palestinian-American reporter by the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel in September conducted its own independent review in cooperation with the U.S. State Department, and U.S. lawmakers are accusing the administration—given the president's support for an additional FBI investigation—of kowtowing to radical elements in the Democratic Party who seek to transform Israel into a pariah state.

One senior State Department official told the Free Beacon that "attending this J Street event is like a blatant and obvious attempt to stick Bibi [Netanyahu] in the eye."

"Unfortunately," said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record, "it has the effect of undermining our relationship with Israel, and thus U.S. national security."

It's not the first sign that the Biden administration is less than elated at Netanyahu's reascension to power last month. Biden waited days to congratulate the newly elected Israeli leader, drawing accusations the president was trying to isolate Netanyahu's conservative government before it even was seated.

"The Biden administration is filled with partisans who hate Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu. They banned the use of the phrase ‘Abraham Accords,' couldn't bring themselves to have President Biden call Netanyahu to congratulate him until their silence became comical, and now they're even unleashing the FBI," Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) told the Free Beacon. "So of course Secretary Blinken is going to J Street, an anti-Israel activist group that also criticized the Abraham Accords, loathes Netanyahu, and regularly calls for investigations against Israel. It's both disgraceful and predictable."

One former Israeli government official told the Free Beacon the administration is not even trying to hide its disdain for Netanyahu and his conservative coalition.

"This is simply bad diplomatic strategy," said the source, who would only speak on background so as not to upset either government. "Speaking to J Street may displease the incoming Israeli government, but they're hardly afraid of the lobby. This doesn't send a message of strength but rather one of petulance. Secretary Blinken should know better."
US insists it’s still committed to reopening Jerusalem consulate, but few convinced
The Biden administration’s new envoy to the Palestinians declared Wednesday that the US still plans to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem after nearly two years of delays, but Israeli and Palestinian officials did not appear convinced.

Asked for his response to US Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr’s renewed pledge, a senior Palestinian official speaking on condition of anonymity chuckled. “At this point, we don’t get excited over these kinds of declarations from the Americans,” he said. “With all due respect, we’ll respond when there are facts on the ground.”

Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has avoided commenting on Amr’s remarks, ostensibly waiting until he is sworn into office, but an official in the Likud leader’s inner circle told The Times of Israel that his boss’s position on the matter has not changed, confirming a report in the Makor Rishon news site.

After vowing during the campaign to reopen the de facto mission to the Palestinians, which his predecessor Donald Trump shuttered in 2019, US President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Netanyahu in May 2021 that Washington wanted to follow through on the pledge.

The then-prime minister responded by voicing his opposition to the proposal. Netanyahu and other opponents to reopening the consulate have argued that it encroaches on Israeli sovereignty in the city — the eastern portion of which the Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.

The Biden administration did not move on the matter following Netanyahu’s refusal. And if the Democratic president’s hesitance to enter public spats with Israel guided his policy then, that inclination was boosted in the year that followed, when Israel was governed by a unity government led by prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.
David Singer: R.I.P., UN Two-state Solution
The founding document of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1964 (PLO) expressly disavowed any claim to sovereignty “over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” and “the Gaza Strip”. It was only in 1968 – after Jordan and Egypt had lost these lands to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War – that the PLO began to agitate for an independent Arab state west of the Jordan River – employing terrorism to try and achieve it.

The PLO strategy failed.

However the long-dormant UN two-State solution was resurrected by the international community in: 1980: Venice Declaration
1993: Oslo Accords
2002: Arab Peace Initiative.
2003: President Bush Roadmap
2011: President Obama
2020: President Trump

Powerful backers indeed – but no such two-State solution has appeared a remote possibility for the last forty years

A radically-different proposal however surfaced in Saudi Arabia on 8 June 2022 that was both revolutionary and ground-breaking: Merge Jordan, the Gaza Strip, and part of the West Bank into one territorial entity to be called the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine – no new Arab State between the River and the Sea.

The UN’s response has been disgraceful.

Instead of welcoming this Saudi proposal and the prospects its successful implementation offers for ending the Jewish-Arab conflict – the UN has failed to even acknowledge its existence - denying it any oxygen, exposure or traction in the UN.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Process Torr Wennesland have made no public comments whatsoever on the Saudi proposal or included any reference to it in their monthly reports to the Security Council since its release. They need to break their silence. Until they do – they remain compromised and conflicted.

A UN closed forum convened on 8 November by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) with Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) from “Palestine” Israel and the United States “Advocating for Accountability in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” - - asserted that “Safeguarding the two-State solution” remained their prime objective.

Not one of them apparently mentioned the Saudi proposal - whose successful implementation would put them all out of business by finally ending a conflict that has defied resolution for more than 100 years.

Guterres continued parroting the UN’s commitment to the two-state solution on 22 November -without mentioning the Saudi solution – which needs to be aired and debated in the UN General Assembly, Security Council and CEIRPP and no longer suppressed.

The UN’s 75 years-old failed two-State solution to end the Jewish-Arab conflict has well and truly passed its use by date. The time has come for the UN to adopt the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution to replace it.

The Israel Guys: UN Votes to Commemorate Israel’s Independence a “Catastrophe”
In what may be the UN’s worst condemnation of Israel in their history, 90 UN member nations voted to pass a resolution to commemorate Israel’s 75th anniversary of their independence. The only twist is that the UN voted to commemorate this day as a catastrophe. Their antisemitism could not get any worse.

While the UN is busy slamming Israel, their administration is cozying up to the Palestinian Authority. Whilst turning a blind eye to the Palestinian government’s corruption, they are working to re-open the US Consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Canada New Democratic Party Denies It Invited Holocaust Denying Journalist to Event
Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) has denied it invited an antisemitic, Holocaust-denying newspaper editor to a political event, following reports that its members hosted him at an event on Tuesday.

Nazih Khatatba, an infamous Holocaust denier appeared at an “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” event held by the the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group. He reportedly met with cabinet official and transportation minister Omar Alghabra, Green Party MP Elizabeth May, and CPFG chair and Liberal Party MP Salma Zahid.

“No NDP MPs invited this individual nor were they aware he would be present,” NPD said in a statement. “Many MPs from all political parties are part of friendship groups. The event MPs attended was in recognition of the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and not an attempt to celebrate or recognize any one individual.”

B’nai Brith, a Canadian Jewish rights group, has documented Khatatba’s antisemitic outrages for years, bringing attention both to his statements and the attempts of al-Meshwar, the newspaper in which he publishes his ideas, to elevate politicians perceived as being amenable to its ideology. In 2017, the paper endorsed New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Niki Ashton, citing her support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement and “pro-Palestinian positions.” Ashton later disavowed the endorsement.

“Khatatba’s presence on Parliament Hill speaks to the growing normalization of antisemitism in Canadian politics,” Documenting Antisemitism Canada (DAC), an advocacy group, told The Algemeiner on Friday. “We must hold our political leaders accountable for their tolerance of this hatred.”

The party went on to denounce antisemitism and Holocaust denial in its statement.

“New Democrats unequivocally denounce antisemitism and holocaust denial,” the party said in a statement.

Life in Hebron through the lens of an IDF combat soldier
Hebron is perhaps the most complicated city in the most complicated country in the world. This knottiness comes from the everyday spoken and unspoken laws dominating its mixed neighborhoods, the actions taken to enforce these laws, and the mix of Israeli soldiers, Israeli police officers, Shin Bet agents and Palestinian police officers trying to keep order. In Hebron, even the garbage men are armed.

Hebron is religiously and historically essential to both Jews and Muslims. There has always been a Jewish community in Hebron. Today nearly 1,000 Jews and over 215,000 Palestinians live there.

Recognizing Hebron’s special status, the Oslo Accords divided Hebron into H1 under Palestinian control and H2 under Israeli control. H2 contains some Palestinian neighborhoods because it includes every area with a Jewish residence.

When Palestinian terrorism peaked in 2002, the IDF launched Operation Defensive Shield. As a result, Israel physically separated H1 from H2 by putting up many fences, gates and walls, while closing businesses in sensitive locations.

Jews may not enter H1 but Palestinian pedestrians may cross between H1 and H2 via military checkpoints. Some streets in H2 are mostly limited to Jews and others to Palestinians, although there are no physical barriers or other indications. On some streets, everyone is allowed up to a certain point and from there only Jews or only Palestinians may proceed.

Many of the Jewish homes were bought from Arabs, resulting in the Jewish community being scattered unevenly throughout the city. Some Jews have Palestinian neighbors on both sides. One apartment building houses Jewish and Palestinian families. There are many military guard posts scattered about, with some posts literally in settlers’ backyards.
IDF: Troops nab terror operative behind series of shootings, bomb-making
Israeli security forces on Friday morning arrested a wanted Palestinian in the West Bank city of Nablus accused of committing numerous shooting attacks in the area, officials said.

A joint statement by the Israel Defense Forces, Border Police and the Shin Bet security agency named the suspect as 22-year-old Ahmed Bassem Haraz.

Haraz was formerly jailed in Israel on terror offenses, including manufacturing explosives and weapons trading, the statement said.

“Haraz has been involved in carrying out shooting attacks against the military forces in the area of ​​the city of Nablus for months,” it added.

The IDF said troops came under fire during the operation, and several Palestinians hurled explosives at them. No soldiers were hurt.

Troops returned fire at the source of the shooting and shot at the Palestinians who hurled explosives, the IDF said.

Palestinian media reports said one person was seriously hurt by the troops’ gunfire.

Footage also showed Palestinians hurling stones at a convoy of military vehicles in the city.

A handgun and a military vest were also seized during the arrest, the military said.

The military said a second suspect was arrested in a town in the Qalqilya area.
Border Police officer stabbed, wounded in West Bank; Palestinian attacker shot dead
A Palestinian man stabbed and wounded a Border Police officer in the northern West Bank town of Hawara on Friday, before being shot dead by Israeli forces, police and medics said.

Border Police said in a statement that a team of officers was operating in the flashpoint Palestinian town when the suspect pulled a knife and managed to stab one of the officers, lightly injuring him.

Other officers then “neutralized” the attacker, the statement said.

Footage posted to social media showed a Border Police officer trying to apprehend the suspect as two other Palestinians were trying to pull him free.

An officer managed to pull the alleged stabber away from them in a headlock, but the suspect then briefly freed himself from his grasp and appeared to try and grab the officer’s automatic weapon.

The officer then allowed the weapon to fall to the ground as he pulled a handgun from a holster and fired four times point-blank, killing the suspect. He then retrieved his automatic weapon and appears to call for backup before the video clip ends.

Border Police said that the officer with stab wounds was subsequently evacuated for medical treatment, as was the officer who subdued the attacker. Both were lightly wounded.

Palestinian teens order Haredi man to kiss their feet, post on TikTok, are arrested
Police arrested two Palestinian teenagers who filmed themselves threatening an ultra-Orthodox man in Jerusalem’s Old City and ordering him to bend down on his knees and kiss one of their feet in a video that they later uploaded to TikTok.

The phenomenon of Palestinians filming themselves assaulting or humiliating ultra-Orthodox residents sparked outrage and clashes last year, leading to several arrests. In one particularly viral video, a Palestinian was filmed pouring hot coffee on an Orthodox man, leading to a two-year prison sentence.

The latest clip was captioned with the line “look at how he kisses his shoes” with a laughing emoji.

A police complaint was filed shortly after the video was uploaded and the 14 and 16-year-olds were arrested on Thursday and charged with assault and issuing threats.

A judge on Friday ordered the suspects’ remand extended by four more days.

Police said in a statement that it “will continue to fight the crimes of abuse, violence and humiliation and bring those involved to justice.”
Hospital plans to fire doctor over claim he praised terrorist, brought him a treat
A Jerusalem hospital intends to fire an Arab resident doctor who allegedly praised a Palestinian terror suspect being treated there, brought him food not supplied by the hospital, then insulted and disobeyed a police officer.

Dr. Ahmad Mahajneh, who has been suspended pending his possible termination, maintains that he did not praise the suspect or bring him food and denies ever supporting terror.

He alleges that the hospital ignored his version of events, including from corroborating witnesses, and denied him due process. The Israel Medical Association has also questioned Hadassah’s plans to punish the doctor, noting the competing claims, but the hospital maintains it has followed all regulations during disciplinary proceedings.

On November 24, Hadassah Medical Center Ein Kerem wrote in a letter to the IMA that it intended to fire Mahajneh, citing its investigation into the doctor’s October 26 interaction with terror suspect Muhammad Abu Qatish, as well as a subsequent disciplinary hearing.

It opened the probe after receiving an unspecified number of complaints about Mahajneh’s actions from a source or sources whose identity has not been revealed to the public or the accused.

Abu Qatish, 16, seriously wounded an Israeli man in a stabbing attack on October 22 in the Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat HaMivtar, according to Israeli authorities. He was shot by an officer after a brief chase and was hospitalized in serious condition.
Israel strips Jerusalem residency of alleged PFLP lawyer, plans to deport him
Israel on Thursday announced it has stripped a Palestinian lawyer of his Jerusalem residency and plans to deport him to France, saying the man is a terror operative belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The decision by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked underscored the fragile status of Jerusalem’s Palestinians, who hold revocable Israeli residency rights but are largely not citizens. It also threatened to trigger a diplomatic spat with France, which has argued against the deportation.

Salah Hamouri, a lifelong Jerusalem resident who holds French citizenship, has been held since March in administrative detention – an Israeli tool that allows authorities to hold suspects without charge for months at a time.

Shaked said that after Hamouri’s detention expires this weekend, he will be deported to France as quickly as possible.

“We must fight terrorism with all the tools at our disposal,” she said. “It is not acceptable for terrorists like Hamouri to gain status in Israel.”

Israel says that Hamouri is a member of the PFLP, labeled a terror organization by Israel and the United States. He has worked as a lawyer for Adameer, a rights group that assists Palestinian prisoners, which was blacklisted by Israel for alleged ties to the PFLP.

He spent seven years in prison after being convicted in an alleged plot to kill prominent rabbi Ovadia Yosef but was released in a 2011 prisoner swap with the Hamas terror group. He has not been convicted in the latest proceedings against him.

EnglishVersion: Hezbollah Turns 40
This version includes the recording of the simultaneous translator for the presentation of Mona Fayad, who spoke in Arabic originally.

This year marks four decades since Hezbollah first appeared on the regional stage, where it has gradually morphed from a Lebanese resistance movement into a global criminal and terrorist syndicate under Iran’s close tutelage. How have the organization’s evolving activities shaped Lebanon’s political scene, its Shia community, and its relations with neighbors during this long history? And what implications do its latest military and economic shifts hold for U.S. policy? To discuss these questions, The Washington Institute held a virtual Policy Forum with Hanin Ghaddar, Matthew Levitt, Mona Fayad, and Akeel Abbas on November 29, 2022.

Hanin Ghaddar is the Friedmann Fellow in The Washington Institute’s Program on Arab Politics and author of its richly illustrated 2022 monograph Hezbollahland: Mapping Dahiya and Lebanon’s Shia Community.

Matthew Levitt is the Institute’s Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of its Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. His numerous works on Hezbollah include an interactive map of the group’s worldwide activities and the landmark book Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.

Mona Fayad is a francophone Lebanese political activist and professor who has become one of the most prominent Shia opponents of Hezbollah. Her influential writings include frequent columns for An-Nahar newspaper in Beirut and Alhurra’s website.

Akeel Abbas is a professor focusing on national and religious identities, modernity, and democratization in the Middle East. He has taught at the American University of Iraq, the University of Houston, and Old Dominion.

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