Monday, June 26, 2023

From Ian:

Anne Bayefsky: Shocking UN ‘inquiry’ promotes terror
On the morning of June 20, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry greenlighted Palestinian terror. That afternoon, Palestinian terrorists killed more Jews.

Hamas praised its operatives. Congressional inaction has left U.S. taxpayers paying the U.N. inquiry’s bills.

The members of the inquiry—more accurately an inquisition—were presenting a report to the current session of the U.N.’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The call for Palestinians to “resist” came from inquisition member Miloon Kothari.

Kothari analogized Israeli self-defense to Russian aggression and said that Ukraine and “Palestine” should be “dealt with” in the same way. In his words, “International law uphold[s] correctly the rights of Ukrainians to resist and we would like to see the same standards being applied to the case in Israel and Palestine.”

Hamas, for its part, had “welcomed the decision” to create the inquisition on May 27, 2021. At the same time, Hamas called its own actions “legitimate resistance” and urged “immediate steps to punish” Israel.

Hamas even issued a statement in response to the inquisition’s first report to the Council in June 2022, saying, “The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas welcomes the report issued by the international commission of inquiry formed by the U.N. Human Rights Council” in response to Israeli “crimes.”

The symbiosis between an internationally-recognized terrorist organization and the U.N. inquisition is impossible to miss.

Hamas and the inquisition also bond over antisemitism. The same Miloon Kothari now promoting Palestinian “resistance” claimed last summer that the “Jewish lobby” controls social media and Israel ought to be kicked out of the U.N.

Kothari isn’t the only inquisition member with such a bent.

In June 2022, inquisition member Chris Sidoti belittled Jewish victims of antisemitism, telling the Human Rights Council that “accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like rice at a wedding.”

The chair of the inquisition, Navi Pillay, has repeatedly referred to “the extremist Israel lobby.” She responded to criticism of Kothari and Sidoti by defending them.

In Oct. 2022, Pillay sneered at the U.N. press corps in New York in response to questions about antisemitism. “This is always raised as a diversion,” she claimed.
Destroying the myth of Israel’s impermanence
Since the early 1990s, Israel has shown that it is desperate for peace. As a result, it has taken actions that actually harmed the safety of its citizens and showed that Israel is prepared to concede and compromise on its national security.

The Palestinian Arab leadership has shown that, if it stands firm, it will receive more and more from Israel. The Oslo process, which we are still trapped in 30 years later, demonstrated to the Palestinian Arabs that we have given up trying to win the war against their rejectionism.

Palestinian Arabs see Israeli decisions to give away major parts of Judea and Samaria, disengage from Gaza, release thousands of terrorists, hand suitcases full of protection money to Hamas and promise to divide Jerusalem and give up control of the Temple Mount as proof of this.

They see that the “strongest military in the region” runs with indecent haste to Cairo every time Hamas or Islamic Jihad fires a volley of rockets at Israel’s south.

They see a Palestinian Authority leader who says he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, embraces and financially rewards mass murderers, and compares Israel to Nazis with no response from Israel apart from the odd press release.

They see an Israel uninterested or unable to achieve victory in this long-standing conflict.

Thus, the Palestinian Arabs believe the Jewish state will soon cease to exist. This provides the motivation and incentive for ongoing terrorism.

Every Palestinian Arab terrorist who picks up a knife or a gun, or launches a rocket, believes that their actions are hastening the end of Israel. Our response, or lack thereof, merely confirms this belief.

For Israel to stop the violence, it must show that it has the will to survive and achieve ultimate victory. It must show the Palestinian Arab population in actions and deeds that Israel is strong, robust and enduring.

It must convince the Palestinian Arabs that Israel is permanent and break their will to carry on fighting by forcing them to accept that they cannot achieve their war aims.

Once the Palestinian Arabs have been disabused of their belief in Israel’s temporary nature, our leadership can take steps towards accommodation and peace, but not before.

The only way to do this is through a decisive Israeli victory.
Daniel Greenfield: Twice as Many Israelis Died in One Month of Biden than in One Year of Trump
Each year that Trump was in office, fewer people in Israel were killed by terrorists while every year that Biden has been in office, the number of people killed by terrorists has increased.

2023 looks on track to be the deadliest year in Israel since 2015, under Obama, and the bloodshed is an eightfold increase in Israeli deaths since Trump’s last year in office.

The Biden administration restored Obama’s old policies and doubled down on them. And the death toll in Israel looks the way that it did under Obama. Under Biden, Israelis are dying at similar rates to the way that they did under Obama, but not at all as they did under Trump.

The foreign policy establishment claims that the Trump administration’s foreign policy toward Israel was a failure. And yet during Trump’s last year in office, when all the pro-Israel policies had been implemented, the fewest Israelis were killed in at least a generation.

In one of the least reported events in the region, the violence had all but ended with only three Israeli deaths in 2020. By contrast under Biden, 7 Israelis were killed in just January 2023.

Twice as many Israelis died in one month of Biden than in one year of Trump.

What was the secret to peace that had eluded every previous administration? Simple. The Trump administration stopped funding terrorists. And the terrorists stopped killing people.

This is not speculation. All anyone has to do is look at the death toll year by year.

The killings in Israel mostly held steady from Obama’s final year in office to Trump’s first year in office, but fell 18% in 2018 as the Trump administration began to pull away from the old failed policies of the Democrats and the Bush Republicans.

Israel to reprimand Ukraine envoy for calling Russia war policy 'immoral'
The Foreign Ministry plans to summon Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk for a reprimand after the embassy released a strong statement opposing Israel’s policy on the war in his country.

Kornichuk’s statements came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the reasons Israel does not provide military aid to Ukraine in an interview with The Jerusalem Post last week.

Netanyahu touted Israeli humanitarian aid to Ukraine and said it’s important for Israel to be able to continue coordination with Russia to strike Iranian targets in Syria.

In light of cooperation between Russia and Iran, Netanyahu expressed “concerns that any systems that we give to Ukraine would be used against us because they could fall into Iranian hands and be used against us. And by the way, that’s not a theoretical possibility. It actually happened with the Western anti-tank weapons that we now find at our borders. So we have to be very careful here.”

Kornichuk: Ukraine never asked for anti-tank systems
Kornichuk pointed out that Ukraine never asked Israel to provide anti-tank systems.

“We want systems to save people’s lives, anti-missile systems. You cannot kill with them,” Kornichuk said on Sunday.

Such systems would not be placed on battlefields, but around civilian population centers to stop attacks by Russian projectiles.

“There may be progress on humanitarian issues, but you can’t win a war with bandages and antibiotics. We have to have the ability to save people’s lives,” Kornichuk stated.
Seth Frantzman: How will Putin's allies view him after attempted Wagner revolt? - analysis
Iran has much to lose
Iran supplies drones to Russia and so Iranian media has a stake in Russia defeating the West. Russia has also helped Iran in nuclear negotiations. Iran’s Fars News examined the Prigozhin rebellion and noted: “In a situation where any internal unrest in Russia in the shadow of the Ukraine war is a serious threat to Moscow, the ‘Wagner’ rebellion proved to Russia's enemies that they cannot capitalize on the internal division in this country.”

The Iranian report notes that Putin gave the Wagner boss a ladder to climb down from and end the rebellion.

“Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, [enabled the] end Wagner's adventure by [an agreement in which it] withdrew its forces from the areas they entered and Prigozhin departed to Belarus.” The report praises Putin as wise. "Today, Russia's allies are required to be vigilant and protect themselves and their allies," the report notes.

"In our region, the resistance coalition must be highly prepared to face any eventuality, and it may even be necessary to carry out preventive operations to pressure on the Americans in the region.”

By contrast, Turkish state media TRT noted that it was unclear if “any concessions had been made to Prigozhin, other than guarantees of safety for him — something he said Putin had given his word to vouch for — and for Prigozhin's men, to persuade him to withdraw all his forces…The fighters led by Prigozhin, a former convict, include thousands of ex-prisoners recruited from Russian jails.

"His men fought the bloodiest battles of the 16-month Ukraine war, including for the eastern city of Bakhmut.”

China, Iran and Turkey have much to lose if there is chaos in Russia. They want to use Russia against the US and Russia does important trade with them.

All the authoritarian regimes will be watching closely to see how Putin handles the next step.
JPost Editorial: The impact of Russia's unrest on Israel's future
Israel's role amidst Russian instability
This task has become more complex, as Russia suspended Jewish Agency operations last year in response to Jerusalem’s increased diplomatic support for Ukraine.

Additionally, in April Israel canceled a one-stop, fast-track immigration process for those eligible to immigrate from Russia and Belarus while maintaining that option for those immigrating from Ukraine.

There has been a surge of immigration from Russia and Ukraine since Russia launched its war against Ukraine in February last year. In 2022, Israel absorbed approximately 70,000 new immigrants, a number that hasn’t been reached in the previous 23 years. More than half those immigrants came from Russia (37,364), with another 14,680 arriving from Ukraine.

While the pace of immigration from Russia kept up in the first quarter of this year, with 10,203 immigrants, only 538 immigrants arrived from Ukraine. The large numbers from Russia underscore that many Jews there feel insecure and are looking for a way out.

Given the recent developments in Russia, which are likely to heighten this sense of insecurity, Jerusalem should be working on ways to ensure that those eligible for aliyah and desirous to leave Russia can do so. It can start by reinstating the streamlined fast-track procedure.

With the precarious situation in Russia, Israel must be able to promptly process and handle a potential wave of immigrants. Preparedness and responsiveness will be key in a time of crisis in Russia – and the events this weekend indicate that such a crisis may not be far off.
'Israel has abandoned the Jews of Russia,' MK Oded Forer charges
“The Israeli government has abandoned the Jewish community in Russia,” said MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu), Chairman of the Absorption and Diaspora Affairs committee in the Knesset on Monday.

Forer, a member of the opposition, explained that not only did the government cancel the relevant special assistance and grants for Russian immigrants, they haven’t done any changes since this weekend’s dramatic events in Russia. According to information by the Israeli government, 13,000 families of Russian Jews or descendants of Jews, are waiting to make aliyah.

On Friday, the Wagner Group, a semi-private Russian mercenary company headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, led an armed rebellion accusing the Russian military of Wagner forces' deaths. The Wagner units withdrew from Ukraine and seized Rostov-on-Don in Russia. They aimed to reach Moscow before government loyal forces could intercept them. However, the rebellion was stopped on Saturday through a deal mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

An Aliyah and Integration Ministry representative said at the committee that the situation in Russia "has not changed for the worse in the last month," and therefore, "there is no need," to offer Jews from these countries a service that is "unusual or different from what was before." The representative added that they decided on Monday to close two more “One-Stop-Shops,” because “there is no demand for this service. We will have one shop as of July 1st.”

Israel 'very optimistic' about Saudi Arabia ties within one year - FM Cohen
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen is “very optimistic” that Israel and Saudi Arabia will normalize relations before March 2024, he said in a briefing on Sunday.

“Israel is interested in advancing a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia,” Cohen said. “This is an attainable agreement…the Saudis are interested in it, as well.”

Normalization talks are taking place over a number of channels, the primary of which is through the Biden administration, the foreign minister said.

An agreement with the Saudis will include additional countries, Cohen said, and it will not use the name “Abraham Accords” as the establishment of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain did.

Cohen said that once Israel and Saudi Arabia have diplomatic relations, more Arab and Muslim states will follow.

By Israel’s estimation, the window of opportunity is until March 2024, because after that US President Joe Biden and his administration will be too focused on his reelection campaign, the foreign minister said.
i24NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Oman FM coordinating Jerusalem Temple Mount visit with Israel
Sayyid Badr Albusaidi plans to visit the Palestinian Authority's Ramallah in the coming weeks, i24NEWS has learned.

Our Guy Azriel has the exclusive details on the potential visit.

Fiji to Open Embassy in Israel, Also Confirms Soldiers in UN Force Were Arrested For Smuggling Drugs
The South Pacific island country of Fiji announced on Monday that its first embassy in Israel will open next year.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen welcomed the announcement, calling Fiji a “true friend” of Israel.

“I congratulate the Fijian government on an important decision that will strengthen and deepen the relations between the two countries,” said Cohen.

“Fiji has proven in recent years that it is a true friend of Israel in the international arena as well. The opening of the Fijian embassy brings us another step closer to the goal we set, of 100 embassies in Israel,” said Cohen.

Fiji’s will be the 98th embassy to the Jewish state. Most of the embassies are located in Tel Aviv, with the rest in the capital Jerusalem.

In a separate development, Fijian authorities confirmed that three United Nations personnel arrested by Israel for smuggling liquid cocaine into Israel on Sunday were Fijian soldiers from the the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force mission.

UNDOF is an international peacekeeping mission that has been monitoring the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire since the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

“The headquarters of the Fiji Battalion in UNDOF has been liaising with the Israeli authorities regarding this matter,” said Major-General Ro Jone Kalouniwai of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. “The RFMF maintains a zero-tolerance stance on any criminal activities by its members.”

Israel and Fiji have maintained ties since 1970. Israel maintains a consulate in Suva under the supervision of the Israeli embassy in Australia.
Israeli Air Defense Capabilities and Limitations in The Next Major War
In a future war with Hezbollah, and certainly in a multi-arena conflict, there will be a substantial reduction in active protection afforded to civilians, due to the priority list described above and the saturation of air defenses by masses of mortars, rockets, missiles, and UAVs.

While Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 2, and Arrow 3 will combine to form a powerful shield in line with the priorities listed above, it will be a highly partial defense.

Civilians will have to rely on alerts and safe rooms too, especially in the North.

In addition, citizens should expect power cuts, communications cut offs, bank problems, and further disruptions to daily life.

The addition of precision firepower capabilities by Hezbollah means even more of a strain on Israeli air defense systems.

What about laser defenses?

In the near future, Israeli laser air defenses should be coming online. Rafael’s Iron Beam laser cannons will be installed within Iron Dome batteries, and with a 10-kilometer range, they will create new interception abilities, letting Israel destroy rockets within enemy air space.

A separate program being led by Elbit involves airborne drones that will be able to shoot down rockets and other threats from above with lasers. This will take longer to develop, but in the future, the skies of Lebanon and Gaza could be flooded with anti-rocket UAVs.

Iran, for its part is working on hypersonic missiles, which fly as fast as ballistic missiles but maneuver unpredictably like fighter jets. Yet Iranian hypersonics are still in a trial period, and Rafael is working on a solution. Iran already has very large arsenal of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs that are operationally ready in its arsenal, though all of these threats have counter-measures in the form of Israeli active air defenses.

In other words, the Middle Eastern arms race is in full swing. Due to Israel’s technological innovations, time appears to be on its side when it comes to air defenses, but any full-scale war in the near future will still result in unprecedented damage to its home front.

Breaking the Terror Wave
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former head of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence who specializes in the security dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says, "I'm totally against this idea of lone wolves," to describe the current flare-up of Palestinian armed violence. "These are not lone wolves. These are wolves that were bred by the incitement....Once you prepare them mentally to be a wolf, eventually they are going to carry out a terror attack."

"What brought the Second Intifada to an end was the understanding of the Palestinian leadership that they have to do something about it, because they are paying a heavy price. Not only the terrorists among them, but the entire society also was paying a price. Palestinian interests were paying a price. And that's not the case today."

"The Palestinian Authority is either totally uninvolved in what's happening and just watching from afar, or encouraging the terror attacks by paying salaries to the terrorists and joining in with their incitement....One of the reasons why they don't do anything to stop it is that the vast majority of the Palestinian population doesn't feel that they pay any price for what's going on."

"Much of the economic flourishing of the Palestinian economy is based on the presence of Israeli Arabs that come to have commercial activity in [Palestinian] cities....We should suspend it for a while. And this by itself is also going to send a message to the Palestinians that there is a price for this terror wave."

"The Americans...are very proud that they give more and more money to the Palestinian Authority, even though they cannot give it directly. So they give it indirectly. They found all kinds of ways to bypass the Taylor Force Act that prevents them from giving money to the Palestinian Authority. So they give it to all kinds of organizations that the Palestinian Authority is supposed to support. And by that, they ease the economic pressure on the Palestinian Authority and allow it to keep paying salaries to terrorists. This is totally ridiculous."

"Iran is motivated by a missionary ideology. They want to turn everybody into a Shiite Muslim....If we allow a group of messianic people like that to have nuclear weapons, this is going to be extremely dangerous, and everybody should be aware of that and should take the necessary steps in order to prevent that from happening. I'm happy that the Americans are saying that we should not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons. But I look at what they're doing and I say to myself that there's some sort of contradiction here between what they're saying and what they're doing, and this keeps me awake at night."
The Danger of Violent Escalation in the West Bank
There has been a sharp and troubling increase in Palestinian terrorist attacks in recent months. Since January, 28 Israelis have lost their lives. Authorities have recorded 148 "critical" terrorist attacks - 120 using firearms, and the rest involving explosives, stabbings, or car ramming. In addition, Israeli security services have foiled another 375 planned attacks during this period (300 involving firearms) and arrested more than 1,400 Palestinians.

Much of this escalation has been concentrated in the northern West Bank, mainly Jenin, gradually spilling over to Nablus. Palestinian terrorist elements have improved the explosive charges they use against the Israeli military, and in many cases have mobilized dozens or even hundreds of gunmen to engage in battle.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - with generous funding and advice from Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and close cooperation with Hizbullah - are investing heavily in efforts to establish West Bank workshops for assembling rockets of the types manufactured in Gaza. Even short-range rockets would constitute a direct threat to Israel's densely populated central region.

Hamas and other groups seek to flood the West Bank with weapons and funds, enabling local groups to arm themselves and select targets. Weapons are reaching the West Bank via Jordan from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Libya.

The Israel Security Agency apparently leans toward a restricted operation to disarm Jenin. Local groups in Jenin are already preparing for a potential Israeli incursion by setting up ambushes, dispersing explosive charges, and establishing sniper positions.
Report: Benjamin Netanyahu says israel needs the Palestinian Authority to function
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly said that the Jewish state needs the Palestinian Authoirty to function in the West Bank, as fears mount over the PA's future after the reign of Mahmoud Abbas

Cleared for publication: Rocket found in Eastern Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day
The ISA (Shin Bet) is investigating a case in which a rocket was found in an open area in eastern Jerusalem during the Jerusalem Day flag march, according to a report by Liron Tamari for Ynet.

The rocket was found in the Beit Hanina neighborhood past the separation fence. The suspect in building the rocket, a resident of the village of Agul in the Binyamin region, admitted that he worked to arm the rocket and declared that he worked out of his own initiative and did not belong to any terror organization.

During his interrogation, the suspect said he learned to build the rocket from the internet and channels on the Telegram messaging app. Despite this, he made several failed attempts to build rockets and did not succeed in launching them.
IDF confirms rocket launched from Jenin area; no reported injuries
The Israeli military said a rocket was launched from the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Monday, causing no reported injuries. It said it landed in Palestinian territory.

"The rocket did not pose a threat to communities in the area," a statement from the military said.

Earlier on Monday, a Telegram group aired footage of what it claimed to be the launch, saying it was aimed at a Jewish community just south of Afula in northern Israel. A sign that appeared in the video said that this was a "Qassam 1" rocket and that the next projectile will have a heavier payload.

The group called itself, The Ayash Brigades. The IDF said it was investigating the incident. Over the years, despite multiple flare-ups in Gaza that involved massive rocket fire from Palestinian terrorist groups on Israel, such activity has not taken place in Judea and Samaria largely because of successful counterterrorism efforts.

Meanwhile, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group said its fighters shot down on Monday an Israeli drone that was flying near the border and over southern Lebanon.

Palestinian gets 2 life sentences, plus 30 years, for 2015 murder of Israeli couple
A military court on Monday handed down two life sentences, plus 30 years, to a Palestinian terrorist over his involvement in a 2015 killing of an Israeli couple in the West Bank.

Zir Ziad Jamal Amar had previously been convicted of being part of a five-man Hamas cell that shot Eitam and Naama Henkin dead as they were traveling in their car near the West Bank settlement of Itamar on October 1, 2015. Their four small children – the oldest was nine years old – were in the back seat and witnessed their murder, but were uninjured.

Amar was convicted in February of two counts of intentionally causing the death of the Henkins. The charge is equivalent to murder in the West Bank military court. He was additionally convicted of four charges of attempted murder and several other security offenses, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The court at the time accepted the prosecution’s position that Amar was guilty of the attack, although he was not present at the time of the shooting.

In addition to the life sentence, Amar was also ordered to pay a total of NIS 3 million ($830,000) to the Henkin family.

Amar was accused by the IDF of planning the attack with the other three members of the cell, providing them with the weapons and ammunition, and making sure Israeli forces were not present at the scene where they intended to carry out the attack.
Israel seizes cash, property in move against PA terror stipends
Israeli security forces raided the eastern Jerusalem homes of 16 current and former Palestinian security prisoners on Monday who had received terror stipends from the Palestinian Authority, confiscating hundreds of thousands of shekels in cash and property.

The seizures included 270,000 shekels (over $74,000) in cash, six vehicles, one motorcycle, jewelry and gold, according to police. Sixteen bank accounts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels were also in the process of being confiscated.

“All the funds and property that were allegedly received by the Palestinian Authority for those involved in acts of terrorism in the past and their families and were actually used as terrorist funds were seized by order of the Minister of Defense, and are destined for confiscation,” police said.

Ramallah pays stipends to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and to the families of dead terrorists. Israeli officials say the payouts provide incentives for terror and regularly withholds an equivalent amount from taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

The P.A. is legally mandated to allocate seven percent of its annual budget for its so-called “Martyr’s Fund,” which provides stipends to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, and the families of terrorists killed in attacks. The size of the monthly payouts depends on various factors, such as how many Israelis were killed, how long the terrorist has been incarcerated and family size.

Ramallah has been paying out stipends for years, but the issue came under a spotlight following the murder of Taylor Force, a U.S. citizen, by a Palestinian in Jaffa in 2018. Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which halted U.S. aid to the Palestinians as long as terror stipends are being paid out.
ToI, Al Hurra Clarify ‘Peaceful Man’ Omar Qattin Was a Hamas Member
“He was just standing there, innocent, he is such a kind-hearted kid. He had no stones, he was totally unarmed, he was at least half a mile away from the military,” the Times of Israel quoted Khamis Jbara, describing his neighbor Omar Qattin who was killed in unclear circumstances last week as settlers rampaged last week in the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya. “He works from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. He is a peaceful man.”

About the fatality, Times of Israel also reported: “The slain man was named as 27-year-old Omar Qattin, who residents said was a father of two small children and worked as an electrician for the local municipality” (“Palestinian killed in unclear circumstances as settlers rampage in West Bank town“).

Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, yesterday Times of Israel editors commendably added that the ostensibly peaceful, kind-hearted Qattin was also mourned by Hamas, a designated terror organization, which claimed him as their “martyred hero” (screenshot at left). The updated article now explains:
Qattin was also claimed by the Hamas terror group as a member in a brief statement calling him a “hero martyr.” Hamas, however, did not say he was a member of its armed wing, indicating Qattin may have only been politically affiliated with the group.

Al Hurra, a publicly-funded Arabic-language American network, also added information about Qattin’s Hamas membership in response to correspondence from CAMERA Arabic. The June 21 Al Hurra article had originally only reported: “A Palestinian was killed previously on Wednesday, during attacks carried out by settlers against the Turmus Ayya village.” Using information provided by CAMERA Arabic, Al Hurra editors added: “Subsequently, the Hamas movement which is classified as terrorist said that one of its members was shot dead settlers near the Turmus Ayya village north of Ramallah.”
MEMRI: Egypt's Plan To Promote Israel-Hamas Truce Through Development Of 'Gaza Marine' Gas Field
The Israeli government recently announced that it had given preliminary approval for the development of the Marine Gaza natural gas field, situated about 36 km off the Gaza coast. The development of this field has been on the agenda for over 20 years, since its discovery in September 2000 by British Gas, which was licensed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) with Israel's approval to drill for gas in the area. Over this period there were many contacts between Israel and the PA in an attempt to advance the project, but they were thwarted by the vast security and political challenges in the region, which were exacerbated after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

In the past few years, the contacts to develop the gas field, which is estimated to hold about 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas, have made some headway. On February 21, 2021 the PA and Egypt signed an agreement to develop the field, and on June 15, 2022 Israel, Egypt and the EU signed a deal to boost gas exports to Europe, which is facing a severe energy crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Subsequently there were further intensive contacts, especially between Israel, Egypt and the PA. The efforts to develop the field are of a piece with regional and international understandings on advancing strategic economic projects that will benefit the Palestinians and enhance stability and security even in the absence of a political process between Israel and the Palestinians.[1]

Involvement in the Gaza Marine project has boosted Egypt's status as a major regional player and a mediator between all the interested parties. The PA too sought to use the gas agreement with Egypt to position itself as a regional player, on a par with the states in the region, which like them is a member of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF)[2] and is concerned with the welfare of its citizens. Moreover, the PA hoped this move would lead to regulating the use of other natural resources under its sovereignty, especially to the resolution of the water issue, which is contested between the PA and Israel.

Hamas, however, has expressed opposition to any agreement on the Gaza gas field signed without its involvement, and even threatened to attack offshore gas platforms from Gaza, echoing the threats made by Hizbullah in the context of the marine border agreement signed by Israel and Lebanon in October 2022.

In light of these threats by Hamas, the development of the Gaza Marine field necessarily requires reaching understandings with this organization to ensure long-term calm in the area. Indeed, the acceleration of the talks on developing the field was accompanied by an acceleration in the talks on security understandings with Hamas. In the recent months indirect negotiations, mediated by Egypt's General Intelligence Service, have been underway between Israel and Hamas. According to reports in the Arab media, Egypt recently relayed an offer of an economic incentives package for Hamas in exchange for a long-term hudna (truce) with Israel.

It should be noted that Egypt-brokered negotiations between Israel and Hamas have periodically taken place in the past in order achieve calm following rounds of fighting between the two sides. But the difference is that, this time, the truce on the agenda is a long-term one, in return for an economic incentives package that is part of an international economic initiative.

“We’re in a confrontation with the Zionist project as long as the Zionist project and occupation entity exist” – PA TV
Official PA TV “Israeli affairs expert” Nawaf Al-Zaru: “We, as a Palestinian Arab people throughout the territory of Palestine, are in an open confrontation, an existential, fundamental, and strategic confrontation with the Zionist project… It will never stop as long as the Zionist project and occupation entity exist.” [Official PA TV, From Amman, May 28, 2023]

Fatah brags of its members and PA Security Forces officers’ terror attacks
The video shows a host speaking on Fatah-run Awdah TV, in a message responding to Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri who hinted in an interview that Fatah is not carrying out enough terror attacks.

Fatah-run Awdah TV host: “If we ask about the armed resistance in the West Bank, the Fatah Movement is the one that is leading it. The Fatah members have more than two thirds of the percentage of Martyrs, in the shadow of Hamas’ absence. Martyr Abdallah Abu Al-Tin, Al-Houh, and Al-Nabulsi (i.e., all terrorists) are Fatah members. Martyrs Ziyad Al-Zar’in, Daoud Zubeidi (i.e., terrorists)… and dozens of others are the Martyrs of Fatah and the Palestinian [PA] Security Forces... Last night our Security Forces and our victorious Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (i.e., Fatah’s military wing), fought the occupation in Nablus… and where was Hamas?” [Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, Facebook page, June 17, 2023]

1982 Tyre Disaster in Lebanon was likely terrorism - IDF
The First Tyre Disaster, in which a deadly explosion rocked Israel's headquarters in the Lebanese city in 1982, may have been a result of terrorism, Israel's defense establishment said in a statement on Saturday.

Further, the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police will convene a commission of inquiry into the disaster more than 40 years after it occurred, they announced.

Israel's defense establishment announced late last year that it was reopening the probe into the incident, out of respect for the fallen and in the pursuit of the truth."

The disaster killed 76 Israelis and 14 Lebanese. It was initially found by an official IDF commission of inquiry to have been caused by a gas leak that led to an explosion that collapsed the building.

IDF: New findings strengthen possibility of terror involvement
Following the initial reopening of the probe, the defense establishment announced that an internal IDF probe recommended opening an official commission of inquiry, after new evidence found "strengthened the possibility that the building's collapse could have been due to terrorist activities.

The commission, whose members will be appointed by the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi in cooperation with Shin Bet director Ronen Bar and Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai will be led by Maj.-Gen (res.) Amir Abulafia, the Israeli military said.

The commission will examine the evidence gathered during the course of the probe conducted over the past few months and will submit a conclusion into the circumstances behind the deadly incident in Lebanon.
Israel isn’t an enemy, says Lebanese activist - opinion
Lebanese national Omar Harfouch, banned from his own country for appearing with Israelis at a European parliamentary event, offers hope during dark times.

At the end of March, the International Movement for Peace and Coexistence organized a conference in the European Parliament that considered the threats to European safety and security posed by the rise of radicalization and extremism in Europe – often imported, from the Middle East in particular. It was co-hosted by four members of the European Parliament from the three main political groups, with a range of expert speakers from different countries.

Harfouch, a Lebanese national resident in France for the past 30 years, came along to the conference as the founder of the Third Lebanese Republic, a new political movement seeking a non-confessional, non-sectarian secular state based on the values of liberal democracy, justice and equality. Harfouch briefly explained his track record of campaigning for human rights, including having organized a symposium on women’s rights in the European parliament itself. He then asked to speak.

We were impressed by what he told us, so we agreed.

He spoke for three minutes. He said that MEPs needed to consider who the terrorists are that pose a threat to the security of Europeans; where they come from; and most importantly who finances them.

Following the war in Syria, 1.5 million Syrians have made their way into Lebanon as refugees. In response, the EU has transferred one billion euros to help mitigate the huge cost of meeting their needs.

Harfouch explained that much of this money has been squirreled away into the pockets of corrupt politicians and other officials who have bought yachts, planes, luxury houses and other trappings of fraud.

But the key point he wanted to make was that this money – EU taxpayers’ money – is being used to fund terrorism.

Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood appropriate some of this money to pay lone wolves who have left Syria and Lebanon as migrants to the EU. They pose a clear and present threat.

He said that the EU must be more careful about to whom it gives its money and must monitor where it is going. This message is timely since the EU continues to provide financial aid to Lebanon and corruption continues. It is, however, not only financial misfeasance that plagues the country.

How Iran's Quds Force Operates in Syria
The key mission of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) is to defend the Iranian Islamic Revolution and create armed militias in the countries of its "Axis of Resistance." Although the Quds Force apparatus in Syria has been under pressure from Israeli airstrikes, Tehran is infiltrating Syrian civil society and sending fighters to the north, where the civil war will one day end, and to the south, on the edge of the Golan Heights, to establish a base against Israel.

Iranian forces in Syria have many enemies, especially among Sunnis. The actions of their militias are spied on and reported. The average person with a smartphone and an internet connection are all it takes to spread information that makes Iranian movements in Syria visible. By dint of proselytizing, Iranian intelligence forgets to be discreet.

Apart from Israel, the favorite target of pro-Iranian militias is the American contingent stationed in Syria, comprised of 900 personnel. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin revealed on March 29, 2023, that 83 attacks had been carried out against their positions since the beginning of President Biden's term of office.
Dennis Ross: A New Iran Nuclear Deal Might Be on the Horizon
Is the Biden administration's strategy on Iran's nuclear ambitions drifting dangerously from prevention to containment? Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, former head of the Foreign Policy and National Security Committee in the Iranian parliament, claims that unwritten understandings have already been reached. The Biden administration will allow "the release of some of Iran's frozen funds in return for Iran refraining from expanding its nuclear program more than the current level," he said.

Iran has already accumulated five bombs' worth of uranium enriched to 60% - a level that Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says has "no justifiable civilian purpose." If the Iranians continue at their current pace, they will have 10 bombs' worth of near-weapons-grade fissile material by the end of 2023.

Allowing the Iranians to enrich to 60% while allowing them to make their nuclear facilities invulnerable to attack amounts to the U.S. shifting from a policy of prevention to a policy of containment. Given Jewish history, no Israeli government is going to wait and accept the possibility of losing the military means to prevent a perceived existential threat.

The Biden administration must structure any forthcoming deal with prevention - not containment - as its goal. President Biden should make it clear that if the U.S. sees Iran moving toward a weapon, he is prepared to destroy the 40-year investment Iran has made in building its nuclear infrastructure. The U.S. should conduct exercises in the region rehearsing attacks against hardened targets to underline its seriousness.

And if the U.S. is to reduce the Israeli impulse to preempt, the Biden administration should provide the Israelis with more powerful bunker busters and aerial refuelers to reduce Israel's need to act sooner rather than later. This would also send a message to Iran that if it violates the understanding or if it presses ahead with hardening, we will not hold the Israelis back.
There Is No Value in Agreements with Iran
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen interviewed by Amichai Stein

Cohen: "The whole world is exposed to the fact that Iranian weapons are killing Ukrainian citizens, and this increases the world's desire to take measures against Iran. We explain the danger posed by the Iranians to every country that is in contact with Iran....They are the number one financiers of terrorism. A nuclear Iran is not only a danger to Israel but also to the world."

"We think that there is no value in agreements with Iran. Its desire to obtain nuclear weapons is intended to continue regional instability, to continue to violate human rights. We made it clear....We will not accept any agreement."

Q: How much does the relationship between Iran and the Gulf bother you?

Cohen: "It's all a show. Any exchange of ambassadors between these countries and Iran is only for outside observers. Inside there is tension, the hatred and fear are very great."
MEMRI: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei: 'If It Were Not An Islamic Principle, And If We Had The Will To Build Nuclear Weapons, We Would Do So – Even The Enemies Know That They Cannot Stop Us'; MEMRI: The Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons That Is Attributed To Khamenei Does Not Exist
Against the backdrop of reports about U.S.-Iran understandings being drawn up for a freeze on the status quo regarding Iran's nuclear program – that is, Western consent to Iran enriching uranium to 60% and storing it in Iran in exchange for the release of Iranian assets and lifting of sanctions and the possibility of a prisoner exchange – there is a growing impression that the West believes that such understandings actually will lead to a freeze on the status quo and stability on Iran's nuclear scene.

However, the reality is that Iran has not in any way backed off from its efforts to build nuclear weapons, has taken every opportunity to advance its technological capabilities to this end, and has for years misled the international community and lied about its intentions while at the same time widely publicizing its goal to legitimately attain nuclear-threshold status, and continues doing so to this day.

This is evident from the annual intelligence reports of three European countries showing that Iranian elements are making efforts in Europe to obtain materials and knowhow in Europe for atomic, biological, and chemical (ABC) weapons of mass destruction (see Iran's Illicit Procurement Related To Weapons Of Mass Destruction In The Netherlands, Sweden, And Germany During 2022, published June 21, 2021). It is also evident from reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the years prior to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal and after 2018 when President Trump announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from it on suspicious Iranian nuclear activity and Iran's noncooperation with IAEA inspectors. Further evidence are warnings by the European troika – the UK, France, and Germany, aka the E3 – at the June 2023 IAEA Board of Governors meeting that Iran's activity is "a clear threat to regional and global security" (see details in report).

In a June 11, 2023 speech, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei spoke to Iranian nuclear industry officials at an exhibition of the industry's achievements. He reiterated the claim that "producing weapons of mass destruction (whether nuclear or chemical) is against Islam," but this weak wording does not mention the false claim that was uttered for many years by Iranian regime officials – that Khamenei had issued a fatwa banning the production, possession, or use of nuclear weapons. Khamenei even stressed: "If it were not an Islamic principle, and if we had the will to build nuclear weapons, we would do so. Even the enemies know that they cannot stop us."

He had made similar statements on February 22, 2021, shortly before the Iranian regime decision to stop implementing the Additional Protocol came into effect (the Additional Protocol allows IAEA inspectors to conduct snap inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities). At that time, he clarified that if the Iranian regime decided to obtain nuclear weapons, neither Israel nor the U.S. would be able to prevent it from doing so (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1559, Iran Uses 'Maximum Pressure' On Biden Administration – Part II: Supreme Leader Khamenei: 'If The Islamic Republic [Of Iran] Decided To Obtain Nuclear Weapons, Neither You [The Zionist Clown] Nor Those Greater Than You [The U.S.] Would Be Able To Stop It').

Furthermore, in his June 11 speech, Khamenei stressed the importance of Iran's nuclear industry – which Iran insists is devoted entirely to civilian nuclear purposes – as a fundamental element of "Iran's strength and prestige." There is no doubt that this unusual phrase referred to Iran's steady progress towards nuclear weapons – and not, for example, to producing electricity or medicines.

It should be noted that in these statements on the nuclear issue to industry officials, Khamenei did not mention the claim oft repeated by regime officials that he had issued a fatwa banning nuclear weapons.

"Khamenei's 'Nuclear Fatwa,' Once Again," and the IAEA's and E3's warnings about Iran's nuclear activity in May and June 2023 respectively. The Appendix lists all MEMRI reports on Khamenei's nonexistent fatwa.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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