Monday, June 05, 2023

06/05 Links Pt1: Palestinians' Preferred Candidates: Terrorists Who Want To Kill Jews; Blinken slams settlements, says Arab world ties can’t replace peace with Palestinians

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: Terror-linked and anti-Israel NGOs Exploit Children in Campaign to Blacklist the IDF
The UN Secretary-General publishes a yearly report on “Children and Armed Conflict,” (CAAC) which surveys instances of alleged “grave violations” of children’s rights around the world. (The six “grave violations” are killing or maiming of children; recruitment or use of children by armed forces or armed groups; attacks on schools or hospitals; rape or other sexual violence against children; abduction of children; denial of humanitarian access.) The CAAC report includes an annex listing “parties to armed conflict” (i.e. armed groups) that perpetrate these “grave violations.” Listed parties are then placed under a UN sanctions framework known as a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism.

As documented by NGO Monitor in several publications, Israel is the target of an on-going multi-year campaign, led by terror-linked and pro-BDS NGOs, that exploit children in advocating for the IDF’s inclusion on this blacklist. Many of these NGOs are funded by European governments.

The annex is designed to generate “targeted measures against violators, including the possibility of sanctions” (emphasis added). To date, the annex almost entirely consists of failed states, state-sponsored militias, and terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda.

The Secretary-General’s report published in July 2022 and covering 2021, explicitly threatened to include the IDF in the annex in the forthcoming June 2023 report “should the situation repeat itself []without meaningful improvement.”

Reliance on Terror-linked and Pro-BDS NGOs
The Secretary-General’s report presents allegations of Israeli wrongdoing as fact, asserting “verification” by UN agencies. However, NGO Monitor research shows that such allegations primarily originate from an NGO “working group” that has been campaigning to have the IDF added to the annex and are not verified.

This “working group” includes Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), designated as a terrorist entity by Israel in October 2021 over its ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization. It also includes other PFLP-linked groups – Al-Mezan and Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) – and NGOs such as B’Tselem that use the “apartheid” libel and lobby governments and international institutions to sanction Israel.

Highlighting the lack of suitability of the UN partners, on May 13, 2023, following the May 2023 conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) during which the Gaza-based terrorist organization launched over 1,200 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, PCHR issued a statement in which it “affirms the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”

Notably, information regarding Gazan casualties is often sourced to the Hamas-run local Ministry of Health. In other words, in addition to terror-linked NGOs, the CAAC report relies heavily on unverifiable Hamas-generated material.
Bassam Tawil: Palestinians' Preferred Candidates: Terrorists Who Want To Kill Jews
For the 87-year-old Abbas and his Fatah faction, the victory of the Hamas supporters was not only humiliating, but also a reminder that when it comes to dealing with Israel, many Palestinians prefer terrorism over diplomacy.

The Hamas-affiliated students also condemned the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority for conducting security coordination with Israeli security forces in the West Bank. Any form of cooperation with Israel, they argued, is tantamount to treason.

The underlying message the Hamas-affiliated lists sent to the thousands of students at the two campuses was: Vote for us because we explicitly and unreservedly uphold the armed struggle against Israel and promise to continue the Jihad (holy war) to murder Jews and replace Israel with a genocidal Islamist state, free of non-Muslims.

It also would not be a particularly good idea to hold general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at a time when a majority of Palestinians are voicing support for an "armed intifada" (uprising) against Israel.

Article 13 of the Hamas covenant urges Muslims to wage Jihad on Israel and reject any peace initiatives: "There is no solution for the Palestinian issue expect through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

The victory of the Hamas-affiliated lists at the two Palestinian universities in the West Bank should serve as a warning not only to Mahmoud Abbas, but also to the international community, especially the Biden administration, whose representatives continue to promote the delusional and dangerous idea of a "two-state solution" between the Palestinians and Israel.

The university students who voted for Hamas have endorsed Hamas's call for Jihad and terrorism against Israel. They have endorsed Hamas's argument that Israel has no right to exist. They have also endorsed the argument that no Palestinian or Arab leader is entitled to make any concessions to Israel.

The officials in the Biden administration, European Union and United Nations who continue to talk about the need for a "two-state solution" are actually advocating the creation of another Hamas-led state, like ISIS, this time in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. A similar state already exists in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, used a launching pad to fire rockets into Israel.

By voting for Hamas once again, Palestinians... are also sending a warning to Abbas and other Palestinian leaders not to make peace with Israel or work with it in any way, or else they will be treated as traitors -- further proof, as if it were needed, that the Palestinians have yet again chosen violence, terrorism and misery rather than a bright, promising future, a better economy, and prosperity for their young.

Shame on the UK Foreign Office for Its Arabist Bias
I'm an ordinary Jew from London, but I had an extraordinary sister. Lucy Dee's life was filled with good deeds, until she was murdered by gunmen in the West Bank with two of her beautiful, kind and empathetic daughters, my nieces Maia, 20, and Rina, 15. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "The UK condemns this appalling attack on civilians."

Let's contrast this with the Foreign Office. Its statement was short, dismissive and lacked any moral fiber. "We are saddened to hear about the deaths of two British-Israeli citizens and the serious injuries sustained by a third individual. The UK calls for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions." No mention of terror, no outrage. The sisters merely "died" and a third person - Lucy - was somehow injured. (She died three days later.)

I wish to use my family tragedy as a force for good, and for me that is exposing the hypocrisy inside the Foreign Office that allows UK taxpayers' money to support terrorism.

The Historic Ties between Israel and the Kurds of Iraq Will Continue
The Iraqi army participated in significant wars against Israel (1948, 1967, and 1973) and was defeated in all of them. Iraq nearly finished a nuclear reactor for the development of a nuclear bomb in 1981 for use against Israel, and it was destroyed by Israeli planes.

Technically, Iraq and Israel are still in a state of war and have no official diplomatic ties. This begs the question of why, in May 2022, the Iraqi Parliament passed a law that threatens the death penalty or life imprisonment for any Iraqi citizen, company, or institution that attempts any kind of normalization with Israel or Israelis.

The success of the Abraham Accords set off alarms with the mullahs of Iran. The prospect of the Abraham Accords’ expansion is undoubtedly one of Iran’s biggest fears. With the Iraqi government under the influence of Iran, it will do everything possible to prevent Iraq from becoming the next country to join.

Israeli-Kurdish relations have been conducted with a high level of secrecy, and have deepened and expanded since the Six-Day War of 1967. Kurdish leader Mulla Barzani visited Israel at least twice (in 1968 and 1973), meeting with Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and high-level Israeli officials from the Intelligence community.

After the fall of Saddam Hussain’s Ba’athist regime in 2003, the geopolitical context for Kurdish-Israeli ties has changed dramatically, with the Kurds establishing a de facto Kurdish state and renewing and deepening their relations with Israel.

Historically, Israel has had cordial ties with the Kurds in a generally hostile region where Jews and Kurds have fought against the odds with the same Arab enemy in their struggles for a homeland.
Israel and Bahrain set to reach free trade pact
Israel and Bahrain will soon sign a free trade agreement, and the island kingdom can serve as a gateway to widening ties with Arab countries in the Gulf, the Jewish state’s envoy to Manama said on Sunday.

Ambassador Eitan Na’eh spoke amid heightened diplomatic efforts to reach a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia by the end of the year as well as increasing ties between Israel and Gulf countries.

“There is a potential here to widen our connections not only with Bahrain but to the Arab Gulf states,” Na’eh told JNS. “Bahrain can be the point of connection between East and West.”

He said the two countries would soon sign a free trade agreement and an investment protection accord.

The date and venue of the signing have not been finalized, although Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat is due to visit Bahrain in the coming months.

Israel and Bahrain normalized relations in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords reached under the Trump administration, which also saw Jerusalem establish relations with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan.

Last year, Israel forged a free trade agreement with the UAE, its first with an Arab country, which officials estimate will increase annual trade from $1.2 billion to $10 billion over the next five years. Economic ties with neighboring Bahrain have lagged behind.
Knesset speaker to visit Moroccan Parliament
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana will fly to Rabat on Wednesday on an official visit to the Parliament of Morocco.

Ohana of the ruling Likud Party is the first Knesset speaker ever invited to a state visit to the parliament of a Muslim country, the Knesset announced on Monday.

Ohana, whose parents were born in Morocco and made aliyah in the 1950s, was invited to Rabat by his counterpart, the president of the House of Representatives of Morocco, Rachid Talbi el-Alami.

Ohana is scheduled to meet with el-Alami; MP Nor-Edin Elhrouchi, the chair of the Morocco-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group; and additional members of the House of Representatives.

The speaker and his host are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of inter-parliamentary cooperation to strengthen the relationship between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco.

He is also slated to meet with senior officials from the government of Morocco and with leaders of the Jewish community.

Seth Frantzman: How Saudi Arabia reinvented itself
There are key questions about where this new Saudi Arabia may be going. On the one hand the foreign policy choices of Riyadh are independent of the West. The outreach to Syria has resulted in many other countries also doing outreach, including key Saudi partners such as Jordan. In addition it remains to be seen whether Saudi Arabia can use the outreach to achieve its interests in Jordan, Iraq or other countries. Riyadh has historically opposed Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq. In addition it’s unclear what will happen in Yemen and whether Riyadh will really normalise ties with Israel.

US concerns about Saudi Arabia’s ties to Russia and China will continue to bedevil ties. This has been a constant concern for Washington in terms of its many traditional partners and allies. For instance the US has been concerned about China’s investment in a port in Israel, and also the way countries like Turkey, a member of Nato, have done outreach to Russia, including buying arms from Moscow. The West’s ties with Saudi Arabia matter on many issues, from trade to the wider Islamic world. As the West pivots to a more confrontational policy with Russia, in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, countries that appear to be open to Russia or China will be in the spotlight. The question regarding Riyadh’s policies therefore will revolve around whether this leads to positive outcomes or increased tensions with the West. So far it appears that the outcomes have been positive. The ceasefire in Sudan was important and Saudi Arabia has also helped broker prisoner exchanges in Ukraine. For now the initiatives appear to be turning the corner on decades of conflict in the Middle East and exchanging division for a new diplomatic era. Saudi Arabia is a key leader of that new era.
Israeli energy minister opposed to idea of civilian Saudi nuclear program
Israel's energy minister voiced opposition on Monday to the idea of Saudi Arabia developing a civilian nuclear program as part of any US-mediated forging of relations between the countries.

The New York Times reported in March that such a program was among Riyadh's conditions for a normalisation deal with Israel. Saudi and US officials have not confirmed that.

Pointing to precedents like Iraq and Libya, Israel has long worried that potentially hostile neighbors could use civilian nuclear energy and other projects developed under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as cover for clandestine bomb-making.

"Naturally, Israel does not encourage such things. I don't think Israel should agree to such things," Energy Minister Israel Katz told Ynet TV when asked about a prospective Saudi civilian nuclear program as part of possible bilateral ties.

Israel requests to be consulted on any US-Saudi deal affecting its security
Israel said last week it expected to be consulted by Washington on any US-Saudi deal affecting its national security. Israel, which is outside the voluntary NPT and has no nuclear energy, is widely believed to have atomic weaponry.

German Army Procures Israeli Smartshooter's Smash X4 Systems for Infantry Anti-Drone Capability
The German Army is investing in infantry anti-drone capabilities, and is procuring Smash fire control systems by Israeli company Smartshooter for its G27P assault rifles.

Smash X4 combines an x4 magnifying optic scope with unique fire control capabilities that provide extended detection, recognition and identification ranges for the shooter as well as extended lethality ranges.

An integrated Laser Range Finder (LRF) enables range measurement for improved precision. Night-capability is also available.
U.S. Defense Official: Israel Is Our "Most Combat Credible and Capable Military Partner" in the Middle East
Dana Stroul, the Pentagon's top Middle East policymaker, told JNS that the decision to transfer Israel from the U.S. military's European Command to its Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East, was "a strategic game changer for how the United States can partner with Israel and our Arab partners in the region to advance security and stability."

The Pentagon thinks that sharing intelligence, exploring integrated air and missile defense, and expanding maritime awareness "contribute in a positive way to security and stability," Stroul said. "We work on it every day."

"We see Israel and the IDF as the most combat credible and capable military partner for CENTCOM." Deepening that relationship helps prepare Israel and the U.S. "to respond to a variety of scenarios, and that includes Iran's destabilizing activities....We are constantly sharing exchanges on Iran nuclear advances, and discussing how both sides will most effectively work together to address them."

"The United States learns as much from Israel as Israel learns from the United States, and it's not just Iron Dome. It's what Israel has achieved with a multi-layered air defense system, and the expertise which it brings to bear every day to protect civilian lives."
Israel to Share Data for Weaving Iron Dome into U.S. Air Defense
The Israeli military and the U.S. Army are taking steps to tie the Army's two Iron Dome batteries into the U.S. missile defense program.

On May 30, Moshe Patel, who heads the Israel Missile Defense Organization, said, "We are going to give them the right solutions and whatever they need in order to integrate fully the capability of Iron Dome inside the" U.S. Integrated Battle Command System.
Ukraine Armed Forces Mastering Israeli Early-Warning Radar System in Poland
The Ukrainian and Israeli militaries are working together in Poland to implement an early-warning radar system in Ukraine to detect missiles and drones. "As we speak, the Israeli and Ukrainian militaries are working together in Poland to implement our warning system, which will save the lives of civilians in Ukraine," said Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

One of the significant advantages of the Israeli system is its ability to calculate a relatively precise time and place of impact for launched missiles. The Israeli system will allow air warning sirens to be activated more quickly, but only in those places where there is a real danger.

Blinken slams settlements, says Arab world ties can’t replace peace with Palestinians
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the expansion of Israeli settlements and ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank are taking Israel further away from peace with the Palestinians.

Yet, he stressed that the US-Israel relationship remains “ironclad,” lauded American security commitments to the Jewish state and said the Biden administration will continue to promote normalization between Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly with Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, he made clear the administration’s displeasure with actions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government has taken in expanding Jewish settlements and increasing Palestinian home demolitions.

“Settlement expansion clearly presents an obstacle to the horizon of hope we seek,” Blinken says in a speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington.

“Likewise, any move toward annexation of the West Bank, de facto or de jure, disruption of the historic status quo at the holy sites, the continuing demolitions of homes and the evictions of families that have lived in their homes for generations damage prospects for two states,” he says.

Improving Israeli-Arab relations cannot replace a two-state solution with the Palestinians, he says.

“Integration and normalization efforts are not a substitute for progress between Israelis and Palestinians, and they should not come at its expense,” Blinken says.

“Israel’s deepened relationships with its partners can and should advance the well-being of the Palestinian people and the prospects of a two-state solution,” he adds.
Israeli bill seeks to prevent Arab citizens from living in Jewish areas - NGOs
Human rights organizations raised alarm yesterday over a private bill approved by the Ministerial Legislative Committee to expand town acceptance committees on the West Bank and larger communities, charging that the proposal is racist and undemocratic.

A private bill approved by the Ministerial Legislative Committee to expand acceptance committees in West Bank towns and larger communities is racist and undemocratic, human-rights organizations said Sunday.

The amendment to the 2011 law that allows towns to screen aspiring applicants would expand the applicability of the legislation from townships with 400 households to those with up to 1,000 households. The current law applies to “community settlements” in the Negev and the Galilee. The private bill submitted by Otzma Yehudit MK Yitzhak Kroizer in January would include the Emek Iron, South Hebron Hills, Lachish and Adullam regions. A similar government bill will also be considered by the Knesset.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said the bill was part of a series of measures to implement “racial segregation” and promote the annexation of Judea and Samaria.

The law does not allow acceptance committees to reject resident candidates “for reasons of race, religion, gender, nationality, disability, class, age, parentage, sexual orientation, country of origin, views or party political affiliation,” it said.

Provisions allowing applicants deemed unsuitable for the social fabric or compatibility with the social structure of the town effectively sanction discrimination, Adalah said.

“The Acceptance Committee Law is already used to regulate a mechanism of racial segregation and is intended to implement the value of Jewish settlement that the Nation State Law enshrines as a supreme principle,” Adalah’s Dr. Suhad Bashara said in a statement. “The government’s documents openly reveal that the deepening of racism is now Israel’s official policy, and that it wishes to act to annex the occupied territories by applying the law.”
Jerusalem girls school under fire in ‘Israeli flag incident’
The Rosary Sisters’ High School in northeastern Jerusalem apologized following Palestinian protests over a May 26 graduation ceremony in which an Israeli flag was waved.

Irate parents stood up and protested at the sight of the Israeli flag, forcing a halt to the Catholic girls school’s ceremony. The presentation organizer tried to calm the crowd but to no avail.

The protest spread and Palestinian activists organized a march to the school in the well-to-do Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina while waving the PLO flag. They barricaded themselves inside the building that weekend and announced they wouldn’t leave until the principal resigned.

Neighborhood parents’ committees joined in, saying, “There is nothing that can justify the musical performance that included the Israeli flag. This is an insult to the residents of East Jerusalem and the Palestinian people.”

Observers say that the issue is really about the school’s identity. A year ago, the school’s principal, Sister Lucy Jadallah, decided to drop the Palestinian Authority curriculum in favor of the Israeli one.

“She realized that studying P.A. material and taking the Tawjiya exam [the general secondary education certificate matriculation examination in the P.A. and Jordan] leads the graduates to Palestinian or Arab universities, which in the end produce graduates who only know Arabic,” Elias Zarina, co-founder and community manager of the Jerusalemite Initiative, an NGO empowering Arab-speaking Christians, told Makor Rishon.

“Young men and women who don’t know Hebrew don’t stay in Israel, increasing the Christian emigration from the country, which is still on the rise,” said Zarina, an Arab Christian resident of Jerusalem.
Palestinian gets two life sentences for murdering Israeli man in 2015 terror attack
A military court handed down two life sentences on Sunday to a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a deadly shooting attack in the West Bank in 2015.

Maad Hamed was part of a Hamas cell that killed Malachy Rosenfeld, 25, and wounded three others in a drive-by shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah, on June 29, 2015.

Hamed was convicted in December 2022 of intentionally causing Rosenfeld’s death. The charge is equivalent to murder in Israel’s West Bank military court system. He was additionally convicted of attempted murder, several other security offenses, and various charges over a separate shooting attack that caused no injuries, also in June 2015.

In addition to the two life sentences, Hamed was also ordered to pay a total of NIS 1,090,000 ($290,000) to the Rosenfeld family and other victims wounded in the attack.

An indictment filed last year said Hamed had established a terror cell on behalf of Hamas “with the aim of carrying out attacks against Israeli targets, and planned, together with other members of the unit, to carry out a shooting attack.”

It added that he had shot at the vehicle with the other cell members, killing Rosenfeld.
Shin Bet chief addresses US concerns about stability of PA
Israel Security Agency chief Ronen Bar met with senior Biden administration officials in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to address U.S. concerns about the stability of the Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli media reports.

The D.C. trip comes against the backdrop of a series of deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis in recent months, including the killing on May 30 near Hermesh of Meir Tamari. It also comes several weeks after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended five days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer were also in Washington last week, for talks with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Those meetings focused on “a broad range of global and regional issues of mutual concern,” according to the White House.

Sullivan also reaffirmed Washington’s goal “of further enhancing Israel’s security and economic integration throughout the Middle East” and “stressed the need to take additional steps to improve the lives of Palestinians, critical to realizing a more peaceful, prosperous, and integrated region,” the White House said in a statement.

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, 87, said last month that any effort to replace the PLO at a time of challenges to the terrorist organization’s authority by Hamas and PIJ would fail.
Ongoing Samaria terror will likely lead to military campaign
The security situation in Judea and Samaria remains disturbingly unstable, with terror attacks repeatedly targeting Israeli civilians and military positions, particularly in Samaria.

On May 30, 32-year-old father of two Meir Tamari was murdered in a drive-by shooting near Hermesh, west of Jenin. In the days preceding that attack, Palestinian gunmen fired on Mevo Dotan in northern Samaria and Gan Ner in Gilboa, just north of the Green Line.

The Israel Defense Forces launched “Operation Break the Wave” in early April 2022 in response to a series of deadly terror attacks. Though the operation is estimated by the Israeli defense establishment to have saved hundreds of Israeli lives, it has not been able to quell the ongoing terrorism stemming from Samaria.

Israeli observers have told JNS that a wider military operation could become unavoidable.

Intifada reality
Professor Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies and former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, said that the Palestinian Authority has become almost irrelevant, and for all intents and purposes has ceased to exist in northern Samaria.

Meanwhile, he said, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with the backing of Iran and Hezbollah, took advantage of the vacuum over the past year to boost its presence in the sector. Since then, he said, the situation has deteriorated further.

“Now we see terror organizations that are not established—not Hamas or PIJ—but rather localized groups, like Lions’ Den. They are not affiliated with established terror organizations, but are still supported by them, through weapons, funds and political support. There is a sense of unity among the ranks,” he said.

Palestinian boy dies after terrorists and IDF trade fire
A Palestinian boy died in an Israeli hospital on Monday after being accidentally wounded by Israeli fire during a terrorist shooting attack on the community of Neve Tzuf (aka Halamish) in Samaria last week.

Mohammad Haytham Tamimi, 2, and his father were hit during the exchange of gunfire on Thursday. The boy’s mother was also reportedly in their car in the village of Nabi Saleh, just to the north of Neve Tzuf in the Binyamin region.

The boy had a head wound and was evacuated by an IDF helicopter to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, while the father was wounded in his shoulder and transported by Palestinian medics to a hospital in Ramallah.

According to the Palestinian Authority’s Wafa news agency, the boy’s family said that he died of his wounds after being on life support.

“A preliminary investigation shows that two terrorists fired for several minutes at the settlement. The IDF force identified the shooting and returned fire. It appears that as a result of the force’s shooting, the two Palestinians were injured. The IDF regrets harming those not involved and works to prevent incidents of this type. The incident is being investigated,” the IDF said in a statement following Thursday’s incident.

Egyptian Attacker Was Most Likely Lone Wolf Jihadist, Israeli Sources Say
The Egyptian border policeman who shot dead three Israeli soldiers on Saturday during a cross-border infiltration was most likely a jihadist who acted alone, Israeli security sources told local media on Sunday.

The estimation is based on the preliminary findings of an ongoing probe into the deadly incident. According to an earlier report, the attacker carried a Koran and a knife, as well as the firearm.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded a full joint investigation with Cairo.

“Israel relayed a clear message to the Egyptian government. We expect that the joint investigation will be exhaustive and thorough,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in televised remarks about Saturday’s incident.

Israeli media have raised questions over the shootings, particularly on how the assailant — who has not been identified — managed to cross the high barrier running along the border. In recent years, there have been exchanges of fire between smugglers and Israeli soldiers stationed along the border.

The victims, Lia Ben Nun, Ohad Dahan and Ori Ilouz, were laid to rest on Sunday.

PMW: Palestinian journalists announce “top priority”: “Loyalty” to terrorists
The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate committee has announced that the “top priority” of Palestinian journalists is “loyalty to all the Martyrs” – in other words, to the numerous terrorists who have been killed while attacking Israel:
Palestinian journalist Muhammad Al-Baz: “Today we [the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate committee] are sending a message that the top priority of the Palestinian journalist is loyalty to all the Martyrs, loyalty to our people’s just cause.”

[Official PA TV News, May 23, 2023]

This declaration of loyalty to terror at a conference - instead of basic journalistic values such as objectivity – echoes a statement to Palestinian journalists by PA Chairman Abbas’ representative and General Supervisor of official PA Media Ahmad Assaf, as exposed by Palestinian Media Watch. Assaf presented Abbas’ view to Palestinian journalists:
“In the eyes of His Honor the president, you are the homeland’s soldiers defending the Palestinian national narrative against the Zionist narrative.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 30, 2023]

Similarly, a statement by a host on official PA TV confirmed that PA journalists are political pawns who are taught loyalty to the PA narrative rather than to “professional duty”:
Alaa Sharbati, son of terrorist prisoner Ayman Sharbati: “Good morning, thank you very much for having me.”
Host: “No, this is our duty.”
Alaa Sharbati: “You are the homeland’s TV channel of which we are proud.” …
Host: “Our national duty comes before [our] professional [duty].”

[Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, Jan. 6, 2023]

MEMRI: Palestinian Daily: Perhaps China, Which Brokered Reconciliation Between Saudi Arabia And Iran, Can Help Achieve Reconciliation Between Fatah And Hamas
Following the appointment of a new Chinese ambassador to the PA, and in light of the dramatic normalization agreement signed several weeks ago by Saudi Arabia and Iran,[1] which was brokered by China, the May 2, 2023 editorial of the Palestinian daily Al-Quds suggested that China could also broker a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and stated that the Palestinians people yearn for its involvement. Titled "China and Its Central Role in The World and in Palestine," the editorial praised this country for its many achievements and for the "amazing" progress it has made in the areas of economy, science and technology. After commending China for supporting the rights of the Palestinians, including in international forums, and for the aid it extends to them, it noted that this country plays a central and important role in the Middle East and the world, and expressed hope it could help end the intra-Palestinian schism.[2]

It should be noted that the Palestinian leadership has also called for Chinese involvement in the efforts to revive the negotiations with Israel. In a May 6, 2023 meeting in Ramallah with the new Chinese ambassador, Zeng Jixin, PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani said that China plays an important and vital role, and called on it to launch a new peace initiative, "in light of the diplomatic vacuum, the American monopoly over the peace process, and the latter's clear bias in favor of the occupation state." Majdalani added: "China's success in achieving a reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflects the waning of the American hegemony in the Gulf and the Middle East, and lends credibility to the [People's] Republic of China and its ability to influence international affairs. This paves the way to… active [Chinese] involvement in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with an eye to increasing the stability in the Middle East."[3]

The following are translated excerpts from the Al-Quds editorial:[4]
"Whoever follows this [topic] witnesses the amazing strides the People's Republic of China has made in all areas: political, diplomatic, economic, commercial, scientific, technological and technical. Thanks to the successful revolution led by Mao Zedong in 1949, this country has managed over the years to transform itself from a feudal country devastated by the [Japanese] occupation into a superpower. In fact, it is [now] the second most [powerful] country in the world, if not the most [powerful]. The most important development that took place and is still taking place in China is its becoming the [world's] leading manufacturer, especially of garments, for its products reach every part of the world, including the state of Palestine.

"On the political and diplomatic level, China supports the rights of our Palestinian people to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. It holds ties with the PA and has an embassy in Ramallah, which acts to develop the friendly relations with Palestine and helps launch various economic, commercial and cultural enterprises. China is a loyal [supporter] of struggling peoples, especially the Palestinian people, since it itself has suffered occupation. That is why we see it extending unreserved support, according to its ability, to our people's struggle to attain its freedom and independence… China upholds the Palestinians' rights, and votes in favor of our people and our cause in the UN and the Security Council. It believes in a two-state solution anchored in truth and justice.

"On the Arab and international level, we cannot ignore the part China played in renewing the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which will have a clear impact on our people's cause. [The scenario] Israel has wagered on, that the Arab countries will continue to normalize [their relations] with it – and especially the option, touted in the past by [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, that Saudi Arabia will normalize its relations with the occupation state – has become difficult to attain.
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders gather in Egypt for talks on Gaza ceasefire
Delegations of Gaza-based Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo for a meeting with Egyptian intelligence officers

Hamas terrorist and brother of Hadar Goldin kidnapper freed to Gaza
Yusuf Masoud, a member of the Izz al-Din al-Kassam Brigades, and brother to the commander of the terrorist group that took the body of IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, was released to the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Masoud sat in an Israeli prison for nearly 20 years. He was arrested at the Abu Holi checkpoint in the southern Gaza Strip in 2003 and was convicted of launching rockets at the Gush Katif settlement bloc (before the Israeli withdrawal) and of terrorist activity.

Masoud has two brothers who were killed during terror acts and, like him, were members of the military arm of Hamas. One of them, Yassin Masoud, was killed while trying to rescue other Hamas terrorists from a collapsed tunnel in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza.

Walid Masoud, the second brother, was killed in August 2014 during what was then called the "Black Friday in Rafiah." This was the day when Goldin's body was taken, which caused a massive attack by the IDF which led to the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Rafiah.

Goldin was taken during Operation Protective Edge
Walid served as head of the team during Operation Protective Edge, who grabbed the body of Goldin, an officer with the rank of captain in the Givati commando unit. Goldin fell during an operation to find tunnels in the region of Rafiah. Walid was killed during the same operation.
“We’ll achieve victory and sweep away the occupation from the Sea to the River”
Official PA TV News, on the funeral in Tulkarem of terrorists Samer Al-Shafi’i and Hamza Kharyoush, who were involved in a shooting attack in which 1 was wounded

Hussein Al-Sheikh, uncle of terrorist Samer Al-Shafi’i: “I was pleased when I saw [the Israelis] dragging the wounded soldiers and putting them in the jeep... I felt that these young people [Al-Shafi’i and Kharyoush] died while attacking and not retreating... Sooner or later, Allah willing, we’ll achieve victory and sweep away the occupation from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River.” [Official PA TV News, May 6, 2023]

Samer Al-Shafi’i and Hamza Kharyoush – 22-year-old Palestinian terrorists who were involved in a shooting attack in which an Israeli civilian was wounded and vehicles were damaged in Avnei Hefetz east of Tulkarem on May 2, 2023. The two were killed while trying to evade arrest in Tulkarem on May 6, 2023, in a raid by Israeli forces in which two other accomplices in the shooting attack were arrested and M-16 assault rifles and other military equipment were seized.

IAEA chief: Iran keeping a ‘fraction’ of its commitments
Iran is adhering to a “fraction” of its commitments outlined in a March 4 agreement, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said on Monday.

Addressing the U.N. watchdog’s Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Grossi expressed disappointment that more progress had not been made in implementing March’s Joint Statement regarding the Non-Proliferation Treaty Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement while highlighting some positive actions taken, including for the first time installing uranium enrichment monitoring devices at the Fordow and Natanz sites.

“But this is a fraction of what we envisaged and what needs to happen now is a sustained and uninterrupted process that leads to all the commitments contained in the Joint Statement being fulfilled without further delay,” the IAEA chief emphasized.

In confidential reports released last week ahead of the Board of Governors meeting, the IAEA noted that it has closed two investigations into Iranian nuclear sites.

One probe was closed into traces of man-made uranium found at the undeclared Marivan site in Abadeh County, in the southern province of Fars, and another was closed at the underground Fordow facility after inspectors found uranium particles enriched to 83.7%.

Grossi said that other safety issues between Tehran and the agency under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement still need to be resolved for the IAEA “to be in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the closing of the probes constituted a “surrender” to Tehran.

“About Iran, Iran is continuing to lie to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency’s capitulation to Iranian pressure is a black stain on its record,” said Netanyahu.
Seth Frantzman: Iran’s Zarif slammed as defeatist, traitor for Instagram statement
Several years ago, then-foreign minister of Iran Javad Zarif was riding high, often using his Twitter account to mock Israel and the Trump administration, insinuating that the US was seeking to go war with Iran for Israel. Now Zarif finds himself in hot water, having been slammed for an Instagram post in which he discussed “compromise,” one of the first major statements from the former official in a while.

Zarif has been slammed by pro-regime media such as Tasnim and Fars News, with one of them claiming he is not a good diplomat, even in defending his own decisions.

Zarif’s long Instagram comment was picked up by some foreign media, including Radio Farda. On Saturday, Zarif wrote on his Instagram page: “Having a dream gives direction to life, but paying attention to abilities makes it possible to move toward ideals.”

As of Sunday, his Instagram post received 38,000 likes. The post discusses Iran’s long history and the gap between goals and possibilities, insinuated to be a way of discussing Iran’s current government without being openly critical.

“Throughout history, we have set our goals based on our desires and ignored our abilities,” he added, noting that, in the past those who dared to go against “wishful movements” were called “compromisers” and “traitors.” In essence, he is accusing the government of bashing people like him as “traitors” and not being realistic.

He also refers to historic Iranian territorial compromises and losses in the treaty of Gulistan in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, in which Qajar Iran lost territory to what was then the Russian Empire. Zarif argues that it is important to pursue dreams in the framework of possibilities.

This appears to be a reference to how stubborn the Iranian regime is in relation to returning to a deal with the US. Recent reports indicate Iran and the US may be having discussions with Oman as mediator. The US has also been apparently doing outreach to Beijing, a key partner of Iran, which brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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