Thursday, March 09, 2023

From Ian:

Blinken Builds a Palestinian Hezbollah in the West Bank
While the Biden administration has been busy encouraging and funding the Israeli protest movement against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reforms, it has also launched a far more potentially dangerous and lethal attempt to destabilize the leading military power in the Middle East. The wave of domestic protests in Israel comes on the heels of the most deadly series of Palestinian terror attacks since the end of the Second Intifada. Incredibly, the U.S. is now proposing to take advantage of its ally’s political weakness by standing up a potential 5,000-man Palestinian terror army that would ostensibly fight terrorism in the West Bank in place of the IDF.

Washington, D.C.’s latest bout of Mideast pyromania began with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Ramallah at the end of January, right after a Palestinian terrorist shot dead seven Israelis outside a synagogue in Neve Yaakov. Naturally, the secretary of state came bearing condolence gifts: a lot more money for the Palestinian Authority, an agreement to provide 4G communications in the West Bank—an initiative from U.S. Ambassador Tom Nides, which he “pounded the table” in order to get rolling, even as there are concerns that advanced ICT infrastructure might complicate efforts by Israeli security to monitor terrorist communications—and a commitment to reopen the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem.

In addition to those goodies, which in no way constituted a reward for terror, or an incentive for PA-rewarded terrorists to commit further acts of terror targeting Jewish worshippers and other innocent civilians, Blinken also carried with him a new security plan for the West Bank, which the Biden administration has spent the past month putting in play.

The U.S. plan, said to have been drafted by the U.S. security coordinator Lt. Gen. Michael Fenzel, was reportedly presented to the Israeli government and the PA in weeks prior. It envisions the creation of a special Palestinian force that would supposedly go after militias in Jenin and Nablus. Unnamed U.S. officials told Israeli media surrogates that during his visit the secretary of state pressed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the U.S. plan. He then did the same to Israel, which has been repeatedly victimized by mounting waves of Palestinian terror, incentivized by the PA’s “pay for slay” policy.

At his press briefing in Jerusalem, Blinken relayed the administration’s demand that the Israelis stop “any unilateral actions” that “would add fuel to a fire,” echoing a Palestinian condition that Abbas delivered in his joint presser with Blinken—the message being that Team Biden disapproves of Israeli counterterrorism operations. Blinken implicitly blamed Palestinian terrorism on Israel’s actions, painting the Palestinians themselves as an equally injured party in the recent wave of Palestinian attacks.
Mark Regev: Palestinian terrorism will not end if they are given more land
The beginning of the new century produced a similar phenomenon. At the July 2000 Camp David peace summit, prime minister Ehud Barak, a self-declared Rabin disciple, agreed to a Palestinian state on over 90% of the West Bank and all of Gaza, with Jerusalem being redivided and serving as the Palestinian capital.

Yet Barak’s concessions and president Bill Clinton’s hands-on involvement in the talks did not prevent the eruption of the al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. Forty Israelis were to be killed before the end of the year, and an additional 25 would die in early 2001 up until 7 March, when Ariel Sharon’s government was sworn in.

Ongoing violence notwithstanding, the final months of Barak’s premiership saw intensive peace talks: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Washington in December, and thereafter Clinton presented a set of parameters designed to be the basis for a future agreement.

Clinton’s proposal called for a Palestinian state on between 94-96% of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, with Israel ceding 1-3% of its pre-1967 territory in land swaps to compensate for annexations. Jerusalem would become the capital of two independent states.

When Clinton left office in January 2001 Israeli-Palestinian talks moved to Taba, Egypt. There, Barak’s negotiators offered even greater flexibility in a last-ditch effort to secure an agreement.

But for the second time in five years, Israeli voters became contemptuous of peace talks in the shadow of escalating terrorism. Sharon was elected to restore security and the new prime minister refused to continue with negotiations while daily attacks continued – placing any political horizon on hold.

Surprisingly for some, vindication for Sharon’s approach could be found in a Palestinian commitment. On September 9, 1993, as a core precondition for the signing of the Oslo Accords, Arafat sent a letter to Rabin in which the Palestinian leader pledged “that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations” and stressed his renouncement of “terrorism and other acts of violence.”

Today, when Palestinians contend that terrorism stems from the absence of a political horizon, they assume (perhaps correctly) that the world will blame Israel for the failures of the peace process. Conveniently forgotten is that it was the Palestinians who said “no” at Camp David; torpedoed Clinton’s parameters; dismissed Ehud Olmert’s 2008 peace plan; and refused to sign up to John Kerry’s 2014 framework.

Israel’s famed dovish foreign minister Abba Eban penned the truism “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Palestinians have multiple legitimate grievances. But if the lack of a political horizon is cited to justify terrorism, they should recall the story of the boy who murders his parents only to demand mercy for being an orphan.

Postscript: At the time of the post-Oslo Palestinian terror attacks, Israelis were told that those trying to kill them were enemies of peace. Today, it is repeated ad infinitum that terrorists kill because hopes for peace have disappeared. Catch-22?

PMW: Abbas’ advisor: PA policy is based on the stages plan
During a televised Friday sermon, PA Chairman Abbas’ Advisor on Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, stressed that the PA still adheres to the “stages plan” for taking Israel's land. According to this long-term strategy, which was coined by the PLO in 1974, all of Israel – which Palestinians refer to as historic “Palestine” - would be “liberated” in stages and Israel thereby destroyed. The “stages” meant that the “liberation” would happen gradually and that the PLO could enter agreements with Israel that would make Israel more vulnerable and which the PLO did not see as binding.

In this recent sermon, Abbas’ advisor, who also serves as PA Supreme Shari’ah Judge, focused on the nature of any compromise that the PA makes regarding Jerusalem and the Western Wall – as temporary:
PA Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “Islam is truth that is indivisible… The rights are indivisible. Give me 60% or 70% of my rights, and tell me: ‘That’s it, that’s yours, take it.’ Perhaps temporarily, yes. [But] strategically, no! … Our rights are non-negotiable. They want to negotiate over Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque – then by Allah, it is better [to be dead] in the belly of the earth than to be on its surface... There is no negotiation on even one millimeter of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall of the Temple Mount), which is an exclusive permanent Islamic waqf (i.e., an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law; see note below) according to Allah's decree …This is our right, and whoever fights us over our right is an oppressor, and it is a duty to resist (i.e., fight) the oppressors.”

[Official PA TV, Jan. 20, 2023]

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Al-Habbash has made it clear that according to Palestinian Islam all of Israel is an Islamic waqf that must eventually return to Islamic rule:
"The entire land of Palestine is [Islamic] waqf andis blessed land... it is prohibited to sell, bestow ownership or facilitate the occupation of even a millimeter of it."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 22, 2014]

Al-Habbash has also stressed that PA agreements with Israel are temporary and that Israel will eventually be conquered:
"The Palestinian leadership's sense of responsibility towards its nation made it take political steps [the Oslo Accords] about 20 years ago [1993]...exactly like the Prophet [Muhammad] did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah... [He signed a peace treaty but] in less than two years, the Prophet returned and based on this treaty, he conquered Mecca. This is the example, this is the model."

[Official PA TV, July 19, 2013]

State Dept. Report Ignores 2021 Policy Calamities, Bashes Israel
A long-delayed State Department assessment of Joe Biden's disastrous first year as president, which by law should have been released by April 30, 2022, finally came out quietly in the evening of Feb. 27, 2023, egregiously tardy and not worth the wait.

One can sympathize with the authors of The Country Reports on Terrorism 2021. After all, how to explain such policy calamities as the restoration of U.S. payments to the vile Palestinian Authority, the willful blindness of appeasing Iran in the hopes of reviving the failed JCPOA, and especially the fiasco of the Afghanistan withdrawal?

It's clear that the delay was not caused by a search for competent fiction writers to explain the missteps in glowing terms (Ben Rhodes must be busy). Rather, the disasters are mostly ignored and the Biden-Democrat obsession with domestic enemies is shoe-horned into places it does not belong.

The document begins with a foreword that hails, "a new era of counterterrorism, one increasingly rooted in diplomacy, partner capacity building, and prevention, and recognizing successful counterterrorism efforts require use of the full range of counterterrorism tools and a whole-of government and whole-of-society counterterrorism approach."

This boilerplate is followed with a curious boast that in 2021, "The United States released its first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which includes a focus on transnational Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism (REMVE)."

The Country Reports on Terrorism, a product of the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism, is not supposed to report on the United States but rather on foreign nations. But the Biden administration, which for two years has prioritized domestic terrorism over international terrorism and sometimes conflated the two, is now trying to make U.S. domestic policy a foreign matter. It does so by announcing a "partnership with the United Kingdom and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), launch[ing] the first-ever criminal justice practitioner's guide on countering REMVE." Likewise, "partnering with Norway, [the U.S.] also launched a Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) effort to develop a GCTF REMVE Toolkit for policymakers and practitioners that will build on the IIJ's REMVE guide."
Saudi Arabia: Peace with Israel contingent on US promises, nuclear aid
Peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel is contingent on assistance from Washington in developing the Saudi civilian nuclear program and the provision of security guarantees, according to a Thursday exclusive report by The Wall Street Journal citing discussions between the two countries.

The report stated that lawmakers at the US Capitol will oppose such demands.

Upon being asked by Italian news source la Repubblica if the Abraham Accords will include Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Accords will "evolve" and that "others will follow, especially if we have the adhesion of Saudi Arabia. But it has to be a Saudi choice."

Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said that it would be "a very tough Gordian knot to cut,” referring to the possible deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, The Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying.

A Bloomberg report from mid-February stated that Israel and Saudi Arabia are reportedly developing closer military and intelligence ties together and shared concerns over Iran.
Bassam Tawil: The EU's Lethal Obsession with Israel
What [EU] Representative [Sven] Koopmans forgot to mention that it is the Palestinians who have built tens of thousands of illegal structures in the West Bank, especially in Area C, which, according to the Oslo Accords, is under full Israeli security and civilian jurisdiction.

Koopmans also forgot to mention that the EU is helping the Palestinian Authority (PA) with the mass-scale illegal construction, paving the way for the de facto annexation of the territory.

The EU does not interfere anyplace else on the planet other than Area C -- not for the Kurds, the Assyrians, the Yazidis, the Uyghurs, the Kashmiris, the Tibetans or the Greek Cypriots. The Palestinians continue to be the only group on the EU's list of people with whom to interfere. This inordinate attention appears to stem not so much from love for the Palestinians as from hatred for Israel.

The EU, it seems, has funded literally thousands of illegal Palestinian modular buildings in territory that is legally under Israeli jurisdiction.

Lately, the EU has been concentrating more on agricultural land: one can acquire a much larger area for a much smaller investment.

By doing so, the EU is encouraging the Palestinians to engage in unilateral actions in violation of the agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel.

This is the same EU that continues to warn Israel not to take any "unilateral actions," and that continues to criticize Israel for building and expanding "illegal" settlements in the West Bank.

As of 2022, the EU has built 81,317 illegal structures in Area C....
Amb. Alan Baker: Palestinian Teenage Terror - Inherently Illegal, But Does Anyone Care?
The recent resurgence of acts of terror committed by incited Palestinian teenagers should be ringing alarm bells throughout the international community, especially among those who purport to show extreme concern for the abuse of children. Regrettably, the international community seems to be deliberately turning a blind eye to Palestinian teenage terror.

Journalist Yoni Ben Menachem lists the causes that serve as the pretext for this recent resurgence of teenage terror. These include social network incitement through "Tik Tok," "Instagram" and other platforms that permit graphic video footage, accentuating Israeli military actions against armed terrorist groups in Palestinian towns, including the demolitions of illegal houses. Such videos deliberately and artfully glorify those terrorists as role models for Palestinian teenagers.

Widely accepted norms and principles of international humanitarian law and norms of humanity to which most countries are party specifically prohibit placing civilians, especially women and children, at the forefront of violent demonstrations, and their usage as human shields to conceal the presence of terrorists, and to attack Israelis.

Such usage is a violation of universally accepted international treaties including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the Palestinian leadership has acceded. Article 8(2)(b) states that "enlisting children under the age of 15 participate actively in hostilities" is a "serious violation of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict within the established framework of international law."

It is a well-documented fact that Palestinian teens are encouraged to be involved in acts of terror, and receive support and inducement from the Palestinian leadership, Palestinian society, as well as from their homes and schools. Given these facts, why does the international community choose to ignore Palestinian violations of international laws and norms?
PMW: Murderer of 7 praised as “hero” in US-funded Palestinian girls’ school
A USAID-funded Palestinian high school for girls in Qalqilya in the West Bank teaches its students that terrorist murderers are “heroes” of Palestinian society.

The Al-Omariya High School for Girls posted on Facebook about a school event, which eulogized and glorified as a “hero” terrorist murderer Khairy Alqam. Alqam shot and murdered 6 Israelis and 1 Ukrainian national outside a synagogue in northern Jerusalem in January this year.

A photo from the event posted by the school shows a woman speaking into a microphone in front of a sign featuring the US flag and the logo of USAID, which funds the school:
Posted text: “A unique sight of female students of the culture club. A rally of solidarity with our people in the Jenin [refugee] camp, and a eulogy for our Martyrs and our hero Khairy Alqam (i.e., terrorist, murdered 7).
O artemisia (name of plant, “Alqam” in Arabic, a word play on the murderer’s last name -Ed.) that lets itself take control of the hatred, so that the Jews will taste its bitterness,
O goodness (“Khairy” in Arabic, a word play on the murderer’s first name -Ed.) that you consoled the soldiers of sacrifice
And the mother who moistens the prostration (i.e., the Muslim prayer rug) with her tears
And you made a covenant with our vendettas
And in the name of Allah, people like you preserve the covenant
Through you Jenin will cause destruction [to its enemies]
In order to protect Jerusalem in the land of the ancestors
And Nablus will receive an echo from you
Nablus will hear your voices
Full blessing to the female students of the club supervised by director of the club’s activities Samah Hindi and director of broadcasting activities Amna Abu Khadija”
[Al-Omariya High School for Girls in Qalqilya, Facebook page, Jan. 30, 2023]
Caroline Glick: What the rioting left fails to see
For Jews keen to remain members in good standing in this new anti-Jewish progressive upper crust, there’s only one choice. If you identify with your victims—whether non-white Americans or, more often, Arabs and their supporters—against the Jews, then you may be able to eke out a place for yourself in the new progressive cultural and political ecosystem.

There were a few Jews among the protesters outside my speech in Toronto and Salvatori made a big deal out of them in his write-up of the event. This makes sense. Jewish Israel-haters are important for those who seek to hound Jews from public life in the West and pave the way for Israel’s physical annihilation by demonizing its very existence.

The first function they serve is that of a fig leaf. Hiding behind Jewish fellow travelers, Jew-haters who seek to define Jews as the anti-nation—the one nation that has no right to nationhood, much less national history and national self-determination—have an easy out from allegations of bigotry. The old line “some of my best friends are Jews” has been transposed to fit the new fashion: “Anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism. Plenty of Jews are anti-Zionists.”

In fact, progressive ideologues insist that Zionism itself is a form of antisemitism because Jews are not a nation and have no homeland. Zionists are genocidal thieves squatting on the Arabs’ land and Zionism is a perversion of the true “Judaism,” which, as anti-Zionist Jews happily proclaim, is really just Marxism with a side of corned beef on rye.

The second function anti-Zionist Jews serve is that of saboteur within the Jewish community. By insisting that the Jews are the villains of their own history, anti-Zionist Jews work to divide communities and confuse their members. For the umpteenth time, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demonstrated how this is done in his latest column, ostensibly about the Israeli left’s rejection of limiting the power of the judiciary.

Friedman’s headline told the tale: “American Jews, You Have to Choose Sides on Israel.” How a leftist columnist gets the nerve to order his fellow Jews around as if they were his servants is an issue worth analyzing in some depth. But suffice it to say that anti-Israel Jews like Friedman believe that it is their duty to act like garden variety antisemitic bullies towards their fellow Jews. As a Jew who has been accepted into the progressive camp by dint of his hostility to Israel and its Jewish supporters, Friedman’s job at the Times is to humiliate his fellow Jews into joining the ranks.

And this brings us back to the pilots, the commandos, the cyber warriors, the high-tech workers, the economists and the yoga instructors who insist that Israel is awful and about to become a tyranny because the government wants to limit the authority of the increasingly post-national judicial oligarchy. Thanks to Israel’s leftist media and progressive universities, for four decades, Israel’s elites have been trained to believe that the war to demonize their country is legitimate. Like their counterparts in the American Jewish community, called on to exculpate their “white guilt” and “Jewish chauvinism,” their problem is that their nation is a gang of “ethno-nationalists” (whatever that is) or that their national liberation movement is a form of “settler colonialism” (whatever that is) or that religious Jews who live in Judea and Samaria are “Judeo-Nazis.”

Like their American Jewish counterparts, who are suddenly awakening to the fact that they are being erased from American life, it is time for Israel’s leftist elites to recognize that their prosperity and success cannot be won by rejecting and disparaging their fellow Jews in Israel and courting favor from the likes of Friedman and The New York Times. It can only be achieved and preserved by joining forces with their fellow Israelis—including the Netanyahu voters they hold in contempt. The only way that pilots, commandos and the rest of Israel’s elite will be safe from enemies committed to their criminalization is if Israel is strong and self-confident. The only antidote to Jew-hatred is Jewish power. Pilots, above all, should be able to understand this.
Melanie Phillips: The urgent need for Israeli electoral reform
Democracy is currently being undermined in many parts of the free world.

In Israel, the threat is deeper and wider than either side will admit, given the near-civil war that has erupted over the government’s proposed judicial reforms.

Enormous demonstrations against the reforms have been taking place in Tel Aviv and elsewhere over the past nine weeks.

The protesters say they are fighting to defend Israel’s democracy. Yet how can this be if their declared aim is to bring down the democratically elected government?

Democracy involves the rule of law rooted in public consent, achieved through the election of political representatives who pass those laws. This is safeguarded by free and fair elections, independent judges, police and prosecutors and a free press.

The problem is that, for the past 30 years, the Israeli courts have been undermining democracy through behavior that owes more to the judges’ political and ideological views than to law.

After Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister once again last December, people petitioned the Supreme Court to force him to step down on the grounds that he was under indictment on corruption charges.

Although there is no law preventing a prime minister from serving while under indictment, the Court didn’t throw out this petition for having no legal standing. Instead, it heard the case, and although it declined to bar Netanyahu, the Court said it could have done so—thus indicating that it deemed it within its power to nullify an election result.

There are many other examples of the Court’s overreach, including its institutionalized grip on government ministers, which in some cases has prevented them from delivering the policies they were elected to enact.

Certainly, compromise is needed. The override proposal, according to which the Knesset could invalidate a court ruling, is indeed a route to potential political abuse. The independence of the judiciary would be properly safeguarded by including academics and other non-legal and distinguished citizens on the committee that selects Supreme Court justices.

But the protesters aren’t putting forward compromise proposals. Instead, as the opposition leader Yair Lapid and others have repeatedly said, the aim is to bring the Netanyahu government down.

Israeli protesters launch 'Day of Resistance Against the Dictatorship'

Sen. Tom Cotton: Democrats should stop meddling in Israeli democracy
There is one foreign leader for whom the Democratic Party seems to reserve special scorn. Leading Democrats have called him a “reactionary,” a “racist,” an “ethno-nationalist.” They’ve accused him of committing “war crimes” and of leading an “apartheid state.” President Joe Biden has called him “extreme” and said they don’t agree on “a damn thing.” Strong words.

Who is this monster, you may ask? Were the Democrats talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin? Or China’s Xi Jinping? Or perhaps Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran? No, they were referring to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and one of America’s best friends. Once again, these Democrats have proven their tendency to coddle our enemies and condemn our friends.

But Democrats don’t stop at mere words. They’re working right now to undermine Netanyahu and his government.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on March 6 that the U.S. State Department is funneling tax dollars to Netanyahu’s domestic opponents. Since 2020, State has sent more than $38,000 to something known as the “Movement for Quality Government” for so-called “democracy education.”

So, what is the Movement for Quality Government and how good is this “democracy education”? This “movement” is an activist group that’s fomenting unrest against the Israeli government and demanding Netanyahu’s resignation. In recent days, left-wing demonstrators associated with this group have protested the government’s proposed judicial reforms. Last week, hundreds of protesters harassed Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, forcing police to intervene and escort her to safety.

Far from staying neutral in Israel’s domestic affairs, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured Netanyahu about the judicial reforms to his face, tacitly siding with the demonstrators. Some Democratic senators have also condemned the reform proposals. Which is awfully rich coming from the Democrats, who have voted to shred this Senate’s ancient rules to pack our Supreme Court and to rewrite our founding documents. I guess when American liberals want to change the courts, it’s the only way to save democracy, but when Israeli conservatives want to, it’s a threat to democracy. Go figure.

The State Department doesn’t even deny that it’s funneling money to these left-wing activities, by the way. Which is troubling, because it’s a clear violation of the usual State Department policy against funding foreign partisan organizations. Not only is this U.S.-funded organization subverting a foreign government, it’s subverting the government of one of our closest allies. Blinken should immediately apologize to the prime minister of Israel, demand your money back and open an investigation into how this happened.

But then again, I suspect we already know how this happened. After all, the Democratic Party has been meddling in Israeli democracy to undermine Benjamin Netanyahu for more than a quarter-century.
BEASTMODE: Cotton: Dems Reserve Special Scorn for Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel to offer Italy gas, wants it to recognize Jerusalem as capital
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to boost economic ties with Italy, he said ahead of a visit to the country, raising the prospect of supplying Rome with natural gas.

"I would like to see more economic cooperation (between Israel and Italy) ... I believe a closer relationship with your companies will be positive for both sides," Netanyahu said in an interview with Italy's la Repubblica newspaper published on Thursday.

"And then there is natural gas: we have a lot of it and I would like to discuss how to get it to Italy to support your economic growth," he added.

Italy is committed to replacing its imports of energy from Russia in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine last year.

In June last year, Israel and Egypt signed a deal with the European Union aimed at boosting natural gas exports to Europe.
Bulgarian Supreme Court Upholds Life Sentences for Hezbollah Terrorists Convicted of Israeli Tourist Bus Bombing
Bulgaria’s highest court has upheld the life sentences imposed in absentia on two Hezbollah terrorists convicted of a July 2012 terrorist attack at the airport in the resort of Burgas which resulted in the deaths of five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassation confirmed the life sentences for Meliad Farah, a dual citizen of Australia and Lebanon, and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, who carries a Canadian passport, with no eligibility for parole. However, neither man has been apprehended and their whereabouts are unknown. Both are the subjects of a “red notice” — an international arrest warrant — issued by the global law enforcement agency Interpol.

“The court’s affirmation of the guilty verdict and sentence is noteworthy, but must be followed by enforcement of the Interpol red notices for the two men, to ensure they serve their sentences,” Toby Dershowitz — senior vice president for government relations and strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think-tank — told The Algemeiner following the Supreme Court’s announcement.

The attack in Burgas took place on July 18, 2012, when a suicide bomber detonated himself on a tourist bus carrying 42 Israelis who had just flown in from Tel Aviv. Five Israelis — Maor Harush, Itzik Kolangi, Amir Menashe, Elior Preiss and Kochava Shriki, a pregnant woman — lost their lives in the attack along with the Bulgarian bus driver, Mustafa Kyosov. US intelligence agencies later identified the bomber as Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, a 25-year-old French-Lebanese dual national and Hezbollah operative, while the then Bulgarian Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, stated in 2013 that there were are “clear signs that say Hezbollah is behind the Burgas bombing.”

One year later, the Bulgarian interior ministry released photographs of Farah and Hassan, charging them with having planned the atrocity. In Sept. 2020, a court sentenced the two men to life imprisonment in absentia.

The attack brought renewed attention to Iran’s backing for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in the region. Directly after the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that the Jewish state would “reactivating firmly to this global Iranian terror onslaught.” Separately, the EU voted in 2013 to designate Hezbollah’s “military wing” as a terrorist organization — a move that some observers criticized as making a false distinction between Hezbollah as a political party and Hezbollah as a paramilitary organization.
What Israel Can Learn from the War in Ukraine
During the past year of fighting, both Moscow and Kyiv have made extensive use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), often deploying them in new ways that amount to significant changes in the nature of warfare. Russia has recently begun importing Iranian drones—including loitering munitions or “suicide drones”—which the Islamic Republic also supplies to its proxy armies around the Middle East. Liran Antebi and Amikam Norkin explain the implications for the IDF:

For Israel, this is a unique opportunity: with Iran considered its greatest threat, Tehran’s involvement in a conflict in Europe allows an in-depth examination of one aspect of Iranian capabilities and weaknesses. [The suicide drones] are relatively primitive, . . . low cost, and simple to operate; some were even downgraded [in order] to allow their export from Iran disassembled, with assembly on the ground. Despite the low level of accuracy of these UAVs in comparison to their Western counterparts, for the Russians they are an adequate solution to their need to erode Ukraine’s resilience by damaging electrical and water infrastructure, as well as inflicting intentional injury and death on civilians.

From Israel’s perspective, Ukraine offers a demonstration of the limited technological capabilities of exported Iranian weapons on the one hand, and implications for the battlefield on the other, including the ability to damage civilian infrastructure, military forces, and civilians.

The fighting in Ukraine also shows how non-Western powers tend to use unmanned weapons—in a total inversion of how Western democracies use similar technologies, largely with the intention of minimizing damage and harm to civilians by means of improving the accuracy of their systems. The way that Russia uses these technologies does not respect international law in particular or human life in general, as proven by the deadly and indiscriminate attacks on the Ukrainian home front. While the weapons have not scored strategic gains, the future of hundreds of such UAVs in combination with heavy barrages of rockets in the early days of fighting are liable to pose difficult problems for the Israeli defense systems.
Smotrich apologizes for Huwara remarks ahead of US trip
Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich apologized Wednesday in a lengthy Facebook post for his earlier comments that the Palestinian village of Huwara “needs to be wiped out.”

Since making the initial remarks a week ago, he has walked them back several times. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Saturday night welcomed the clarification by Smotrich that he did not mean that innocents should be harmed. However, Smotrich had stopped short of an apology until Wednesday.

In his post, which runs to nearly 1,600 words, Smotrich recounted his shock at being told by a friend, a fighter pilot with senior rank in the Israeli Air Force, of the impact his remarks had had among other pilots.

“He explained to me that some of the pilots had understood my remark as a call for the IAF to ‘wipe out’ Huwara and its residents from the air. Such an intent, on the part of a senior minister and member of the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet, in combination with what they perceive to be the granting of unchecked power to the government as a result of judicial reform, had caused them real anxiety,” he wrote.

“In their view, this could result in the IAF being given such an absolutely illegal order, which of course they were not prepared to carry out,” he added.

This, he continued, cast in a different light the recent announcement by a group of Israel Air Force reserve fighter pilots that they would skip a day of combat training in protest against the proposed judicial reforms.

“It wasn’t a matter of cynical campaign excuse by the pilots in the context of the opposition to the reforms, but rather real and deep concern that had led them to do what they had,” he said.

“It is important for me to first apologize to the IDF and its commanders, with an emphasis on the IAF, if I had a part in breaking the trust so important between the IDF, as the people’s army, to the elected [government]” Smotrich wrote.

Smotrich, 43, is also a minister in the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria, with broad authority over policy decisions there. His authority covers Area C of Judea and Samaria, as defined by the Oslo Accords, where Smotrich plans to accelerate the building of Jewish communities and limit Palestinian development; more than half of Huwara is located in Area C.
The Israel Guys: Gaza Fires a Rocket at Israel & 6 Terrorists Brought to Justice in Jenin
The terrorist who brutally murdered the Yaniv brothers was finally brought to justice during a shootout with the IDF in Jenin. Hamas tries and fails to fire a rocket into Israel.

The Syrian media blames Israel for an airstrike targeting the Aleppo airport

All this and more on today’s show.

Israeli forces thwart drive-by near Jenin; Three Palestinian terrorists killed
Israeli forces killed three Palestinian terrorists overnight Wednesday during an operation in the village of Jaba’, located south of Jenin in Samaria.

The terrorists, members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, had opened fire on the forces from a moving vehicle. The soldiers returned fire, killing the gunmen, who were found in possession of explosive devices.

Palestinian media identified the fatalities as Ismail Fakhoury, 26, Nayef Malayshah, 25, and Ahmad Fashafsha, 22.

Two of the terrorists had been wanted on suspicion of involvement in shooting attacks in the area; the third was released from an Israeli jail last month.

No Israeli forces were injured in the exchange.

The operation comes two days after Israeli troops killed during a raid in Jenin the Palestinian terrorist who murdered two Israelis near the Arab village of Huwara on Feb. 26.

That terrorist, identified by Palestinian media as Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, 49, a member of Hamas, shot dead brothers Hallel Menachem Yaniv (21) and Yagel Yaniv (19) while they were driving in Samaria, according to the IDF.

The United States on Tuesday expressed support for the Israeli counter-terror operation.

“Israel, as we have made the point before, has the legitimate right to defend its people and its territory against all forms of aggression, including, of course, those from terrorist groups,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price during a press briefing.
3 Palestinian gunmen killed in overnight raid near Jenin

Israeli Trains Syrians to Clear Landmines
There is an autonomous region in Syria's northeast that is free of both jihadist and Iranian domination.

Civilians in the region are killed or wounded each year by landmines, planted by the regime and by ISIS.

To address this problem, the Arab Council for Regional Integration, supported by the Center for Peace Communications, convened Syrian Arab and Kurdish engineering students in the town of Qamishle for a 35-hour remote learning course taught by Majd Thabet, a Druze citizen of Israel.

Thabet showed students how to build remote-controlled rovers, equipped with sensors and a camera, which can survey territory and pinpoint landmines for removal. The vehicles cost less than $100 to build.
MEMRI: Syrian Tribal Leader Criticizes Arab League’s Visit to Syria: The Assad Regime Is a Puppet of Iran
On February 27, 2023, the Arabic-language Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Channel 9 (Turkey) aired an interview with Mudhar Al-Asaad, the General Coordinator of the Higher Council of Syrian Tribes, on the backdrop of a visit by an Arab Parliament delegation to the areas in Syria affected by the February 6, 2023 earthquake. Al-Asaad said that the areas affected by the earthquake had already been destroyed by the Syrian regime in cooperation with Iran-backed militias, the Russian air force, ISIS, and the PYD and SDF militias. He said that the Syrian regime supports the Houthis in Yemen in their fight against Arab countries in the Gulf, that it has more Palestinian and Lebanese blood on its hands than Israel does, and that it has flooded Jordan with drugs and weapons, and he asserted that if the Syrian regime rejoins the Arab League, this would spell an Iranian foothold in the organization. He elaborated that Iran is an “imminent danger to the Arab world”, adding: “If Iran wins in Syria, it will turn the Arabs everywhere into slaves.” He also called for the implementation of UNSC Resolutions 2254 and 2118.

From Moscow to Tehran: Putting the US sanctions review to the test
A comparative examination of U.S. sanctions policy toward Russia and Iran suggests that the administration would do well to implement its own conclusions, while recognizing their limitations. Doing so demands a holistic approach and a much tougher stance toward Tehran.

First, the Treasury review correctly emphasizes the setting of realistic goals within a broader strategy. Sanctions are unlikely by themselves to persuade Vladimir Putin to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. They did not, and will not by themselves, lead to regime change in Iran — nor to a better nuclear agreement. Sanctions remain a crucial but complementary tool to other measures. The administration clearly understands that they are not a substitute for arming and financing the Ukrainian army. However, the White House has been far less willing to counter Iran with hard power, even when provoked, and to pose a consistent, credible military threat to Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Second, the review’s emphasis on the desirability of multilateralism blurs the line between large and small states. Multilateralism is essential to maintaining economic pressure against large economies such as Russia’s or China’s. The international sanctions on Moscow have imposed a heavy burden on the Russian economy, harmed the Kremlin’s ability to continue financing the war in a way that affects its military achievements, and limited the technology available to the Russian economy, and thus also to the Russian military, possibly for decades to come. Additionally, as Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo has pointed out, concerns about the impact of sanctions on the global economic system have proven overblown.

Nevertheless, as national security adviser Jake Sullivan has acknowledged, the U.S. has demonstrated that its own secondary sanctions can achieve much the same economic impact unilaterally against a smaller country such as Iran, and with even less collateral damage to the global economy. The achievements of the Biden administration’s multilateral sanctions on Russia and those of the largely unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran under the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” are largely the same: The target economies were badly hurt, making it more difficult to finance malign activity and to acquire high-tech weapons.

Finally, the sanctions on both Russia and Iran prove the necessity of deterring third-party actors from helping the target country circumvent sanctions. In today’s interconnected world, it is insufficient to look only at the sanctioned country’s economy and not to observe its main supply chains. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hinted correctly during his speech before Congress about the need to address Iran’s provision of drones to Russia. The U.S. (and Europe) cannot sanction Russia while negotiating with its main weapons supplier — Iran — about sanctions relief.
American-Israeli Military Coordination and the Possibility of Regional Escalation
The Biden administration fears regional escalation as Iran approaches a level of uranium enrichment necessary for its first nuclear bomb.

The surprise visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to the region is intended to tighten the security and political coordination of the United States with its allies in the Middle East and Israel.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces, General Mark Milley, arrived in Israel on March 3, 2023, and immediately met with senior members of the defense establishment.

The United States is concerned about two main developments: the escalation of violence in Judea and Samaria, which could develop into a regional escalation and spread to the borders of the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon, and the developments in Iran in the nuclear field. Iran is approaching the red line of uranium enrichment at a level of 90 percent, which will allow it to produce its first nuclear bomb.

Dr. Colin Kahl, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy affairs, said on February 28, 2023, that Iran could produce enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb within 12 days.

Senior political officials in Jerusalem say that the forthcoming – and surprise – visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to the Middle East will include Israel, Egypt, and Jordan.

The visit will take place before the follow-up meeting of the Aqaba Summit, which is supposed to take place in a few days in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

Seth Frantzman: Iran warns Israel against Caucasus presence, Azerbaijan ties
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned Israel against a “presence” in the Caucasus during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara this week.

This is only the most recent of a number of comments from the Iranian regime that sought to spotlight Israel’s close ties with Azerbaijan, as well as being part of a pattern of reports in which Tehran warned Jerusalem against a role in the Caucasus, an area that borders northern Iran.

Iran International, a pro-opposition media group based in London reported earlier this week that “Azerbaijan is to allow Israel to use its airfields in case of a possible attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities as part of their military cooperation.” Middle East Monitor, which tends to be critical of Israel, also reported that Israel sent flights “loaded with weapons” to the South Caucasus country.

Israel sent flights “loaded with weapons” to Azerbaijan
That report noted that Baku’s defense concerns are what led to the flights. Israeli weapons played an important role when fighting against Armenia restarted in the four-day war between the countries in April 2016 and especially during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020. Al-Monitor also reported about the arms trade this week.

These reports go back several years. An article at Middle East Institute in October 2021 noted that “the official Iranian narrative is that Baku has given Israel ample operational freedom to use Azerbaijani soil to stage operations deep inside Iran. The latest charge from Tehran is that Israel’s theft of droves of sensitive nuclear files in 2018 involved the use of Azerbaijan as a staging ground for an operation that humiliated Iran’s leadership and intelligence services.”

The report added that “this time around, however, Tehran seems to be doubly apprehensive. It sees Israel intensifying its efforts to move closer to the Iranian homeland as a way of pressuring Iran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has warned all of Iran’s neighbors against what he called ‘interference of foreigners in the region’ as a ‘source of discord and damage.’ In a direct jab at Baku, Khamenei promised retribution to those neighboring states that collaborate with the Israelis.”
Iran-linked centre under investigation invited 'Jews cheered 9/11’ scholar
A preacher who claimed that Jews celebrated the 9/11 attacks has been invited to speak at an Islamic centre described as the Iranian regime’s “London office” even as it faces a Charity Commission probe, the JC can reveal.

Ahmed Haneef, a Canadian Shia scholar, was due to address a special event at the Islamic Centre of England (ICE) in Maida Vale on Wednesday evening.

The organisation has been accused of being an “outreach centre” for the brutal Iranian regime by House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns.

The centre, a charity, is currently facing a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission over “serious governance concerns” and failure to comply with previous rulings.

In a previous speech to the organisation Haneef claimed 9/11, “was a false flag operation”.

He said: “It was a self-imposed terrorism in America. You know, you find this plane crashes into the building and it immolates, it bursts into flames. Oops.

“By the way, we just found the passports of some of these hijackers in the rubble. Come on, you know, things like that.

“You know, how they found some Jewish kids on some roof actually filming the event and jumping up for joy. No word from them. So there’s a false flag operation.”

MEMRI: Weekly Protests Continue in Baluchestan, Iran: Death to Khamenei! We Will Not Waver!
This clip is a compilation of videos shared by various online sources showing the protests in Baluchestan, Iran, which have been going on for several months. Thousands of protesters can be seen marching in the streets, and crowds can be heard chanting “We swear on the blood of our comrades that we will not waver!” and “Death to Khamenei!”. In addition, Iranian authorities can be seen beating and arresting protestors.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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