Khaled Abu Toameh: The Palestinians’ Uncivil War
The biggest losers from this internal bloodletting are the Palestinians living under these leaders in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The dispute between Hamas and Fatah is not over who will bring democracy and a better economy to the Palestinians. They are not fighting over who will improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by building new schools and hospitals. They are not fighting over who will introduce major reforms to the Palestinian government and end financial and administrative corruption. They are not fighting over the need for freedom of expression and a free media.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Hamas leaders correctly argue, is not a rightful or legitimate president. If Abbas were to sign a deal with Israel, people could come along later and say that he lacked the legal authority to do so; they would be right.
In order for any peace process to move forward, the Palestinians first need to stop attacking each other. Then, they need to come up with new leaders who actually give a damn about their people.
Melanie Phillips: The terrorist murder of Aisha Rabi
The security agency also reportedly claims to have identified an effort to slander and delegitimise its interrogation methods, which it maintains are carried out in accordance with the law and under the supervision of the State Attorney’s office.
It is unlikely that Israeli Jewish terror suspects would be treated worse than Palestinian Arab ones. It is unlikely that either group would be handled with kid gloves, but the details the lawyers have revealed of the boys’ treatment, although harsh, hardly amounts to torture:
“’From morning to night (my client) was shackled to a chair, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, in a small cell’… the interrogators had ‘cursed, spit on and even sexually harassed’ his client. He claimed that the Shin Bet agents had even performed a jailhouse informant exercise with cops posing as inmates who pressured the suspects to confess.”
More worryingly, when one of these lawyers, Itamar ben Gvir, was asked why he hadn’t criticised the Shin Bet’s interrogation tactics against Palestinian suspects, he denied that the murder of Aisha Rabi was terrorism at all.
“‘When a Jew throws a rock at a Palestinian, it is not terrorism. When a Palestinian throws a rock at a Jew, it is terrorism because it’s part of a larger effort to wipe us out from our land,’ he argues.”
That is wrong and repellent, hardly mitigated by his lame addendum that the “extreme” tactics used by the Shin Bet against his client should not be used against Palestinian inmates either.
The murder of Aisha Rabi was indeed a foul and murderous act of terrorism – violence against the innocent carried out for political motives. Whether or not it was committed by the boys currently in custody, not only the perpetrators but also those who tried to obstruct justice on their behalf should feel the full force of the law.
Unlike the Arab communities in the disputed territories, where the murder of Jews – whose incitement is institutionalised within Palestinian society – is celebrated with sweets and fireworks by jubilant throngs, Jewish terrorism is rare and is viewed by the vast majority of Jews with horror and revulsion.
But it exists; and however small, it is a foul stain on the Jewish conscience. It must be dealt with.
The five Jewish teenagers from Judea and Samaria who were arrested over the past several days were allegedly involved in the deadly attack that led to the death of a Palestinian woman, Aisha al-Rawbi, in October, Israeli authorities said on Sunday.
The five teens who were arrested are students at a yeshiva in Rechelim, close to where the attack took place, on a road near the community. The attack, investigators say, targeted a Palestinian car, causing it to veer off the road and crash. Al-Rawbi, from the Arab village of Badi and a mother of eight, suffered a fatal head injury. Her husband, Aykube, survived.
It is unclear if all five teens are suspected of being the direct perpetrators of the attack. According to the Shin Bet security agency, the breakthrough in the investigation was made possible in part by intelligence gathered close the scene of the attack. The detective work showed that a day after the attack, during the Jewish Sabbath, a group of settler youth traveled from the community of Yitzhar to Rechelim, where they were briefed on the tactics needed for countering Shin Bet interrogations.
The Shin Bet further said that the evidence collected showed “that the arrested had anti-Zionist and extremist views” that included a video in which some of them burn an Israeli flag. One of the arrested youths had also written “death to the Zionists” and drew a swastika on an Israeli flag.
The American presence in Syria had formed the primary obstacle in the way of Iran’s completing an unbroken corridor of political influence from Tehran to Beirut on the Mediterranean shore. With only 2,000 soldiers, the U.S. was controlling, indirectly, about a third of the country, yet this small force was still large enough to overwhelm any potential combination of adversaries, as it proved last February when it annihilated some 200 Russian mercenaries in a matter of hours, with no losses on the American side. No question, the American withdrawal will create a vacuum in the region that Iran and Russia will inevitably seek to fill.
As America withdraws from the Middle East, the choice is between, on the one hand, a withdrawal of American power based on the conviction not just that the situation has become hopeless but that over the decades the U.S. choice of allies, including Israel, has made it worse – the Obama position – and, on the other hand, a withdrawal of direct American military engagement while ensuring that the U.S. will continue reliably to support those same historic allies and others drawn to its and their side, thereby enhancing the possibility of a stabilized Middle East in the next decade.
In the Trump administration’s conception, three key obstacles stand in the way of American interests in the Middle East. The first is jihadistans, zones of chaos defined by failed states like Syria and Yemen. The jihadistans are problems that must be managed. The second is the problem posed by Sunni terror groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State, which take root and prosper in the jihadistans. The third is the rise of Iran, which, abetted by Russia, is training and equipping Shiite militias based on the Hizbullah model; these it deploys to project its power into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.
If the Israelis have any hope of preventing Syria from becoming a permanent Iranian military base, they must act alone. Only independent military action can solve their problem. Israel is more powerful militarily than at any time in its history, and it is not at all isolated. The U.S. fervently desires to see Israel succeed in curtailing Iranian power. Trump and his foreign-policy advisers, led by Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will likely be eager to provide Israel with any weapons and intelligence it may lack to do the job.
Democratic leaders late Sunday evening vowed to derail a vote on a package of pro-Israel bills despite those measures having received broad bipartisan support in previous Congresses, essentially ensuring the partial government shutdown continues.
The 17-day shutdown continued this week after top Democrats declared late in the weekend no deal had been reached, but Congress has remained funded and is not part of the partial shutdown.
With Congress open, top GOP Senate leaders had scheduled a vote Tuesday to move forward on what congressional insiders describe as a “mega” pro-Israel bill, including measures addressing Israel and Jordan’s security and addressing boycotts of Israel, amid uncertainty generated by the Trump administration’s new policy to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
Top Democrats signaled Sunday they would not allow consideration of the legislation. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) all came out against a vote on the pro-Israel legislation.
The opposition comes amid a new class of Democrats in Congress fiercely opposed to Israel and the Jewish people.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) slammed an anti-BDS bill introduced last week by Republicans as “absurd.”
“It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity,” he tweeted. “Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government. Let’s get our priorities right.”
It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity. Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government. Let’s get our priorities right. https://t.co/rHvpBHtHI5
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 6, 2019
US President Donald Trump has refused to sign over the past few weeks any legislation funding the remaining six government agencies, including the State Department and Homeland Security, that were not funded last summer, as long as $5 billion is not allocated to build a border wall with Mexico.
The proposed anti-BDS legislation is one of four bills combined into one—the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act—introduced on Thursday by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Fresh from showing her desire to wipe Israel off the map, new congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has wasted no time in revealing her true colors. And I’m not referring to the red and black of her thobe.
In case you missed it, she is accusing Jews who oppose the boycott of Israel of dual loyalty, a classic antisemitic canard.
What makes this chutzpadik, in addition to vile, is the fact that this is coming from a woman who danced with the palestinian flag at her victory party, wore an Arab robe to her swearing-in, and defiantly said “I am still Palestinian today” after her swearing-in.
In case this level of chutzpah seems familiar, that’s because we recently saw it from her friend Linda Sarsour, who also accused Jews of dual loyalty while professing support for Tlaib’s intentions to wear her “palestinian gown” at the wearing-in.
Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) issued a joint statement on Sunday in support of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States recognize his nation’s sovereignty over the region.
“Israel’s northern border has become increasingly dangerous in recent weeks with the discovery of Hezbollah’s terror tunnels and Bashar al Assad’s continued efforts to consolidate control of Syria with the assistance of Iranian shock troops,” Cruz and Cotton said. “Responding to the threat posed by Iran and its proxies requires ensuring that Israel can defend its territory and its citizens from attacks. To support Israel’s right to self defense, Washington should take the long overdue step of affirming Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Netanyahu met with John Bolton on Sunday where he publicly asked the U.S. national security advisor for the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel has maintained control over the contested region for 51 years after taking control in 1967 during the Six Day War. Israel defended itself during the conflict from attacks brought by Syria and other Arab nations in the region. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights. Since then, the U.S. has refused to recognize the region as sovereign territory of Jewish state.
“The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security,” Netanyahu said. “You will be able to understand perfectly why we will never leave the Golan Heights, and why it is important that all countries recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
CBS aired its exclusive interview with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday night.
During the interview, the president spoke of his relations with Israel and military coordination between the two countries. He also spoke of his country’s attitude toward demonstrators and political prisoners.
Sisi did not allow the show to be broadcast in Cairo, and the Egyptian government tried in recent days to prevent it, but the American media did not heed the request.
Interviewer, Scott Duffy said in one his questions that the Egyptian army was cooperating with the Israeli army in Sinai. When the interviewer asked Sisi whether it was the “deepest and closest” cooperation he had with Israel, the president replied: “It’s true, the air force must sometimes move to the Israeli side, so we have broad coordination with Israel.”
Other than Israel, Egypt is the recipient of the largest financial aid from the United States to any country in the Middle East, in the amount of nearly half a billion dollars a year. This occurs at the same time as Egypt is known for incarcerating thousands of political prisoners, killing unarmed demonstrators and violating the freedom of expression of its citizens.
In an unprecedented series of visits, three delegations of local leaders from Iraq have reportedly made trips to Israel in recent months, and held meetings with Israeli officials.
The delegations, totaling 15 Iraqis, held meetings with Israeli academics, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and, most significantly, met with Israeli government officials, Hadashot TV news reported on Sunday night.
Iraq is at war with Israel and is a firm supporter of the Arab League boycott of Israel. Its passports are not valid for travel to Israel.
The groups made the trips, which were firmly designated as unofficial visits, under conditions of great secrecy, the TV report noted, in part in order to avoid antagonizing Iraq’s Iranian neighbors.
The local Iraqi leaders were not from Iraqi Kurdistan, the TV report stressed, but rather from “Iraq proper — that is, Baghdad.” The three delegations comprised both Sunni and Shi’ite members — “influential figures in Iraq.”
The trips were mainly of a “social-cultural nature,” the TV report said, and also featured meetings with organizations that deal with the Iraqi Jewish heritage. The goal, the report added, was “to build the infrastructure for future ties” between Iraq and Israel, with these delegates going back to Iraq as “kinds of future ambassadors” for Israel there.
Rwanda’s national airline will start operating regular flights to and from Israel in the coming months after the two countries on Monday signed a bilateral agreement as part of the Open Skies aviation reform.
The development comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed in September to open embassies in each other’s countries, amid a diplomatic flurry that has seen Jerusalem develop closer ties with other African nations such as Chad.
The civil aviation authorities of Israel and Rwanda conducted several weeks of talks regarding the air service agreement, which has been signed by Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Rwandan ambassador to Israel Joseph Rutabana.
RwandAir intends to start operating its new Kigali-Tel Aviv line within a few months, Rutabana said according to a statement from Israel’s Transportation Ministry.
On Twitter, Rutabana said it was an “important step.” Katz tweeted that “the skies are opening to Africa as well!”
The new agreement allows for each country to operate up to seven weekly flights between Ben Gurion and Kigali airports, without restrictions regarding the planes’ type or capacity.
Israeli security officials have recently visited Rwanda’s airport and concluded that it is compatible with Israeli safety and security standards.
A week after floating the idea, the Palestinians have ditched a plan to apply for full UN membership through the UN Security Council, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Sunday.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said last week he planned to submit a request to the Security Council for full UN membership in January. He said he planned to travel to New York to personally submit the request. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was also considering visiting the UN to advance the move.
Danon led a diplomatic effort over the last week to thwart the membership campaign, arguing among friendly countries on the Security Council that the PA does not meet the fundamental conditions of permanent membership in the UN because of its clear policy of paying salaries to terrorists and the public incitement campaign it leads against Israel in textbooks and social networks. One condition for UN membership is that a candidate state must be “peace loving,” something Danon argued was belied by the PA’s payments to terrorists.
He said on Sunday that it appeared the Palestinians have backed away from the gambit, concerned it would not garner the nine votes in the Security Council to force the US to use its veto.
“The PA continues to error in its attempt to establish facts on the ground through unilateral moves while it has not abandoned the path of terror,” he said.
A French jihadist appeared in court on Monday ahead of his trial for shooting dead four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014 following his return from Syria.
Mehdi Nemmouche, accused of being the first battle-hardened Islamic State jihadist to stage a terror attack on European soil, faces a life sentence if convicted over the killing spree in the Belgian capital on May 24, 2014.
Both Nemmouche, 33, and Nacer Bendrer, a fellow Frenchman aged 30 who allegedly supplied the weapons, deny charges of “terrorist murder.”
Nemmouche, wearing a blue sweater, spoke only to confirm his identity as the hearing began at 10:30 a.m.
“Nemmouche, Mehdi, 33 years old, unemployed,” he told the criminal court in Brussels, which is expected to spend Monday selecting the 12-member jury ahead of the start of the full trial on Thursday.
More than 100 witnesses are due to testify at the trial, which will be attended by the victims’ families and Jewish community leaders, who have denounced the anti-Semitic nature of the attack.
And more than 300 Belgian and foreign journalists have registered to cover the proceedings which could last until the end of February.
Israel conveyed warnings to Hamas in the Gaza Strip through an Egyptian mediator against escalating the situation on the border during the Israeli election period; But Hamas is continuing to give the “green light” to attacks on Israel.
On January 6, 2019, a drone bearing a large explosive charge and a huge bouquet of balloons were dispatched toward the Gaza perimeter and it landed inside Israeli territory. The explosives were neutralized by IDF sappers, and in response, the IDF attacked two Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip.
The war room shared by all of the Palestinian organizations gathered on January 6, 2019 in Gaza and in response to the IDF attack fired a rocket early in the morning of January 7 toward the city of Ashkelon. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
The IDF reacted that morning with attacks on Hamas terror targets in the organization’s military camp in Beit Lahia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
It appears that Hamas is again trying to impose new rules of the game upon Israel including rocket fire every time Israel attacks Gaza in response to violations of the understandings for calm that were achieved through Egypt.
In Israel, the dispatch of the booby-trapped model aircraft into Israeli territory is viewed as an extremely serious incident and a clear violation of the understandings for calm. It is believed that this model airplane could not have been sent into Israel from the Gaza Strip without the authorization of Hamas, which is the ruling power in Gaza.
Balloons: Strong enough to lift a house in the @DisneyPixar family movie, Up. Dangerous enough to carry explosives towards Israeli families in real life.
Today, Hamas launched explosives attached to balloons from Gaza into Israel. This isn’t a movie, it’s real life. pic.twitter.com/j7qXKpcoRh
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) January 6, 2019
Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a single rocket into Israel early Monday, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome system, the army said. There were no reports of injuries.
Warning sirens blared in the southern city of Ashkelon and the nearby Hof Ashkelon region after 3 a.m. The Israel Defense Forces said it identified a single launch from Gaza.
Residents reported hearing loud explosions, apparently from the Iron Dome interception.
The launch came hours after the Israeli Air Force struck several Hamas positions in the eastern Gaza Strip in response to an explosive device that was flown into southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said.
The Israeli Air Force Struck several targets in the Gaza Strip before dawn on Monday, after terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into Israel, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
“Air force fighter jets and helicopters attacked several terror targets at a Hamas training camp in the northern Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces said, noting the attack was in response to the rocket fired into Israel.
“The IDF holds Hamas responsible for all that takes place in the Gaza Strip,” the army said.
Palestinian media reported that Israeli helicopters attacked at least one Hamas training site near Beit Lahia in northern Gaza.
A Palestinian reportedly attempted to stab an Israeli at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank, according to local authorities.
Border police reported that the woman approached them and did not respond to their orders to halt. They then shot in the air as a warning and when she failed to respond, they shot in the air. They then shot at her lower body.
The terrorist is fully conscious but suffered from bullet wounds in her lower extremities. She was treated by paramedics on the scene.
The suspect, a woman in her 40s from Tulkarem, explained her behavior by saying she wanted to die due to family issues.
No soldiers were injured in the incident.
Hamas members retook control of the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Monday after the Palestinian Authority withdrew its own staff, an AFP journalist and Hamas officials said.
The PA’s civil affairs authority had on Sunday accused Hamas of “summoning, arresting and abusing our employees,” leading it to conclude that their presence was futile, according to official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
The PA said that, until further notice, it will withdraw its staff from the Rafah border terminal, which is used by travelers moving to and from Egypt, raising the possibility that the crossing will shut.
An AFP journalist saw officials from Hamas, a terror group that is the de facto ruler of the Strip, at the border crossing’s main gate and inside accompanying offices in southern Gaza on Monday.
A Hamas border official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the terror group that rules the Strip had taken control “to avoid a vacuum.”
Rafah — the only way for Gazans to leave their enclave that bypasses Israel — was closed Monday due to the Orthodox Christmas holiday but it was not clear whether it would reopen as scheduled on Tuesday.
There was no immediate comment from Egypt about whether its side of the crossing would be open Tuesday.
Israel has reportedly asked Qatar to delay its monthly delivery of $15 million to the Gaza Strip, after a rocket was fired from the coastal enclave at a southern Israeli city overnight.
According to reports in Hebrew-language media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, ordered the fund transfer frozen in the wake of the uptick of cross-border violence.
A Hamas official told The Times of Israel the group doesn’t know if Qatari funds will arrive this week.
“We have only seen the reports in the occupation’s media,” the official, who asked to not be identified, said.
The reports did not cite a source, though some referred to reports in Palestinian media. Palestinian media reports, however, referred to reports in Israeli media as their source.
PreOccupiedTerritory: After Abbas Dissolves Parliament, Legislators Vow To Continue Doing Nothing (satire)
Palestinian lawmakers reacted with anger and frustration to President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement last week disbanding the legislature, but promised despite the setback to continue their efforts not to accomplish a thing for their constituents.
President Abbas announced the dissolution last week in a bid to forestall Hamas political maneuvers aimed at undermining his authority and asserting greater sway in the West Bank, beyond their Gaza Strip stronghold. Hamas representatives hold a majority in the 132-seat body, which Abbas has not permitted to conduct any sessions, with the convenient pretext that Israeli restrictions are to blame for members’ inability to attend. Elected representatives expressed defiance in the face of Abbas’s announcement, declaring their intention not to submit to such antidemocratic machinations and not to stop doing bugger-all for the electorate in the territories.
“This is a scandalous development that only hurts the Palestinian cause,” pronounced Itbah al-Yahud, a Hamas delegate. “But ‘Brother’ Abbas cannot conceal the true malicious intent of this travesty, and more importantly, cannot thwart the will of the Palestinian people, whom we will continue to faithfully represent by continuing to accomplish the same things we have accomplished in the parliament so far.”
Jamal al-Badawi, wanted by the United States for his suspected role in the attack on the USS Cole 18 years ago, was killed in a precision strike in Yemen on Jan. 1, US Central Command said on Sunday.
Badawi was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 over his role in the October 2000 deadly bombing of the USS Cole, a Navy guided-missile destroyer. He escaped from prison in Yemen twice, once in 2003 and again in 2006.
“US forces confirmed the results of the strike following a deliberate assessment process,” said Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban, two days after the Defense Department said US forces had targeted Badawi in the strike.
It is the latest blow to Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has lost key leaders in US strikes in recent years. In 2018, US officials said they believed that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, once one of the world’s most feared bombmakers, had been killed.
2017: Swedish FM @margotwallstrom defends election of #SaudiArabia to @UN_Women: “If there is one place where they ought to be—to learn something about women—it’s in the Commission on the Status of Women.”
2018: #SaudiArabia tortures women’s rights activists with electric shocks. pic.twitter.com/qNlkkjVHaL
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) January 6, 2019
Kuwaiti Cleric: Jews Shatter the Spirit Of Every Country They Settle In; Hitler Warned His People
Kuwaiti cleric Jihad Al-‘Ayesh delivered a talk in which he said that the Jews shatter the spirit of every country they settle in. He said that an example of this was when Benjamin Franklin, whom he said had been an American president, had said that the Jews were a grave danger to the United States because their morals of prostitution and usury had flooded the United States. He also said that in Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler warned the German people of the prostitution spread by the Jews. Al-‘Ayesh said that this is all part of the Jewish religion and that it appears in the Torah. He also claimed that 90% of nightclub owners are Jewish. Al-‘Ayesh posted the video to his YouTube channel on November 21, 2018. Jihad Al-‘Ayesh has previously denied the Holocaust and made other anti-Semitic remarks (see MEMRI TV clips 6180 and 6606). His son, Salah Al-Deen Al-‘Ayesh, has also made anti-Semitic remarks (see MEMRI TV clip 6717).
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