US Senate Version of Taylor Force Act Leaves PA With No Room for Maneuver on Terrorist Payments
The US Senate is preparing to vote on the Taylor Force Act that links US financial assistance to the Palestinians with a verifiable end to the Palestinian Authority’s policy of “martyr payments” to convicted terrorists and their families – and the final version of the bill leaves the PA with little room to maneuver if it wants to continue receiving US aid.
Named in memory of the former American army officer stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in March 2016, the Taylor Force Act passed the House of Representatives by unanimous consent in December 2017. At the time, some supporters of the legislation expressed concern about exemptions that were introduced for certain infrastructure projects in the PA, as well as a “sunset clause” that would require the Act to be renewed six years from now.
The Senate version of the legislation, however, contains no sunset clause and only one exemption – for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, a grouping of six hospitals that operates independently of the PA and receives a portion of the annual $75 million the US spends on providing power and specialized medical services to Palestinians.
Notably, the legislation contains stringent reporting requirements from the US State Department in ascertaining whether the PA has taken credible steps to end the “martyr payments” – dubbed by critics as “pay-to-slay”– along with any laws legitimizing these payments. Crucially, the secretary of state is instructed to present an annual unclassified report to Congress on several key matters emerging from the legislation.
Caroline Glick: Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and the post-Oslo era
In many ways, the situation today recalls the situation in 1992. In 1992, the US was sponsoring peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors in Washington. Without informing the Americans, after taking office in 1992, the government of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres began carrying out secret talks with the PLO under the auspices of the Norwegian government in Oslo.
After the first Oslo deal was concluded in August 1993, Rabin sent Peres and then-Foreign Ministry legal adviser Joel Singer to the US to brief then-secretary of state Warren Christopher on the agreement. Rabin hoped Christopher would agree to present the deal as an American peace plan. Rabin believed that the Israeli public would be more supportive of a deal with an American imprimatur.
In a 1997 interview with Middle East Quarterly, Singer described the meeting with Christopher. Singer recalled that as Christopher read the agreement for the first time, a shocked look came over his face. “His lower jaw dropped, and for the first and last time in my life, I saw Warren Christopher smile.”
But Christopher rejected Rabin’s request, all the same.
“Secretaries of state are not supposed to lie,” he told Peres and Singer.
Just as the Clinton administration was not willing to take the lead on a new strategic trajectory that placed Israel and the PLO on equal footing, so the Trump administration is not willing to initiate a new post-Oslo Middle East.
That is Israel’s job today just as it was Israel’s job in 1993.
A close reading of Netanyahu’s statement to the Likud Knesset faction makes clear that he understands this basic truth. And a close reading of the statements and counter-statements from Jerusalem and Washington following his briefing to the Likud Knesset faction indicates that if and when Netanyahu embarks on a new course, like Bill Clinton and Warren Christopher in 1993, Trump and his advisers will not stand in his way.
Foreign observers may have a hard time squaring Benjamin Netanyahu’s international stature as a statesman with his suddenly vulnerable position at home.
Abroad, both those that hate the Israeli prime minister and those that admire him view him as a successful leader. His diplomatic skills have transformed Israel from an international pariah, at the mercy of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the international left, to a rising star on the international scene.
Economically, Netanyahu is credited worldwide with shepherding Israel from a sclerotic socialist backwater in the early 1990s into a first world economy and a global leader in innovation and technological advancement.
In the context of these extraordinary achievements, and as Israel faces mounting security challenges from Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza — challenges amplified last Saturday with the violent clashes between Iran and the Syrian military and Israel — the police’s sudden announcement that they recommend indicting Netanyahu for bribery seems incongruous.
But as Tip O’Neill, the late, long-serving Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, famously said, “all politics is local.”
This truth was borne out in spades on Tuesday night in Israel, when the Israeli police announced that they are recommending that Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit indict Netanyahu on two counts of bribery and two counts of breach of trust in two separate investigations.
The reason these events are happening is because Netanyahu is hated by Israel’s entrenched elites, who benefited most from the way things used to be. And they would like very much to unseat him and replace him with someone who would change the direction of Israel’s foreign, defense and economic policies.
Michael Oren: Abbas’ double game
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to fight Hamas down to the very last Israeli soldier. As much as he loathes Israel and its leaders, he fears Hamas and its leaders much more, because while the former oppose his policies, the latter pose an actual threat to his life.
Abbas would clearly spare no effort to eliminate Hamas leaders. Ideally, he would rather have Israel do his dirty work for him, preferably while being accused of war crimes.
Like many senior Israeli officials, Abbas understands that the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is nearing disaster. Unemployment is nearly at 50%, Gazans have only a handful of hours of electricity a day, and drinking water is becoming scarce.
The desperation is becoming increasingly reminiscent of the situation in 2014, when Hamas felt it had its back against the wall and started a war. Abbas knows it will not take much to reach a breaking point again, and he is doing his best to get us there.
Abbas recently cut the salaries of Palestinian Authority officials in the Gaza Strip by 50%, and fired thousands more. He has suspended welfare benefits to families in Gaza, generally cut budgets to the coastal enclave, and is again trying to limit the power supply, despite the winter cold, thus exacerbating Gazans’ suffering. Perhaps in his cruelest move yet, he has also suspended the delivery of vital medicines to Gaza, including for infants and children, and significantly reduced the funding for medical care for Gazans in Israel.
The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises—mass hunger and contagious disease—is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This is what occurred in Darfur, Somalia, and the Central African Republic. In such situations, the first to leave are the relief agencies. Then local medical staffs evacuate, along with local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam. The destitute are left to fend for themselves. Hospitals, dispensaries, schools, and local government offices are soon abandoned or become scenes of grisly shootouts and reprisals.
Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza. Hamas, which is the main source of [misleading reports] of an imminent humanitarian crisis, rules Gaza with an iron fist. Few developed democracies in the world can boast the low homicide rates prevailing in the Strip. Nor have there been reports of any closings of hospitals, municipal governments, schools, universities, colleges, or dispensaries. . . .
Nor have there been news items announcing the departure of any foreign relief agencies or the closure of any human-rights organizations in the area. Nor is there any evidence that the World Health Organization (WHO), which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza. And that is for good reason. The WHO knows, as do hundreds of medical personnel in Israeli hospitals who liaise with their colleagues in Gaza, that the hospital system in Gaza is of a high caliber, certainly by the standards of the developing world. . . .
Hamas, [of course], wants more trucks entering Gaza to increase tax revenues to pay for its 30,000-strong militia and public security force, and to increase the prospects of smuggling arms for the benefit of its missile stockpiles and tunnel-building efforts. How Israel should react is equally obvious. You want more humanitarian aid? . . . Free the two mentally disabled Israelis who found their way into Gaza and are imprisoned by Hamas.
Current political realities in both the Palestinian Authority and Israel make it difficult to envisage a peace plan that will meet the minimum needed substantively and politically by both parties to reengage in negotiations.
Presenting a plan with a high likelihood of failure could trigger sharp deterioration. Instead, the U.S. should develop more modest objectives for the immediate term, with attention turned toward creating practical, positive developments on the ground.
On the Palestinian side, Abbas’ margin for maneuvering is extremely limited. Failure of the peace process, corruption, and poor governance combined have severely eroded the PA’s legitimacy among its public. Recent polls show that 77% of Palestinians believe that the PA is corrupt, and 70% want Abbas to resign. Add to that the split between the West Bank and Gaza. Thus, Abbas currently lacks the political credit needed to be able to engage with a peace plan that requires significant compromise.
The U.S. should impress upon the PA the need to stop threatening to sever security cooperation, as such threats delegitimize the PA security forces and demoralize its members.
Israel will continue to act against Iran in Syria if Tehran persists in developing its military presence there, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday.
“Iran should not build its military bases there — we’ll act against it,” Netanyahu said when he spoke with Guterres on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
With regard to the Golan Heights, Netanyahu said that the strategic hilltop area Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War “will remain in the hands of Israel forever.”
Netanyahu is set to address the conference on Sunday before returning to Israel and is expected to focus on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria during that talk.
Netanyahu has issued such warnings since the Fall, but the urgency of the issue has increased since Saturday’s military action against Syrian and Iranian targets, which resulted in the downing of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, following the incursion of an Iranian drone into Israeli territory.
During his visit to the region earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also called on Iran to withdraw from Syria.
A State Department official just compared the US-Israel alliance to her relationship with a BFF from junior high. Really.
But first, a little background.
Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, is on a Middle East tour this week. His stops include Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and Egypt. One of his main topics is Israeli-Palestinian peace. Another is the Syrian civil war, which, last weekend, drew Israel into a fight against Iranian-Syrian forces.
Notice an anomaly? Tillerson isn’t stopping in Israel. Others have noticed. Some, like former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, thinks that sends the wrong signal to antagonists and allies in the region.
“It is a perfect opportunity to stop in Israel, coordinate substantive policy and strategic messaging with the prime minister, and execute a joint US-Israeli strategy on other stops,” Shapiro wrote in a Haaretz op-ed published Sunday, after last weekend’s Israel-Iran-Syria clash. “Many secretaries of state have done exactly that during similar moments of crisis.”
Democrats are making political good-for-the-gander points, noting that President Barack Obama was scorched for delivering a major speech in Cairo in 2009 but not stopping in Israel for a visit.
Wednesday’s horrific shooting in Florida has reignited the gun rights debate in the United States over the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1791, which states:: “… the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
In the past, proponents of limiting civilian access to firearms have extolled Israel as having the proper approach to limiting mass shootings, pointing to the numerous legal hoops Israelis must jump through in order to be granted a gun license.
“In Israel, gun ownership is a privilege rather than a right,” wrote Public Radio International in November. “There is no such thing as a right to bear arms in Israel,” the Huffington Post preached after the 2016 shooting in an Orlando nightclub that left 50 dead.
Newsweek praised Israel for obligating its citizens to “show genuine cause to carry a firearm, such as self-defense or hunting”. The message is clear: Israel has the right approach in curtailing access to firearms, and the United States would be well advised to tread the same path.
In reality, Israel’s gun policy is living proof of the arguments the American gun lobby has been making for years.
Gun rights advocates contend that the way to stop mass shootings is by ensuring that there are always well-armed citizens present who can neutralize the shooter. As NRA chairman Wayne Lapierre always says, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. A bedrock of the NRA’s philosophy is that criminals will always acquire guns illegally, and draconian gun laws only render law-abiding citizens defenseless.
The Knesset should officially and explicitly reject the lie of occupation itself, and should do so as soon as possible, South Carolina state representative Alan Clemmons told ten Members of Knesset at the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus’s Night to Honor Our Christian Allies Thursday night at Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The Caucus and World Jewish Congress (WJC) gave a lifetime achievement award to Clemmons, who drafted the first bill prohibiting boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel. Clemmons’ bill was the model for legislation that has passed in 25 US states.
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended the event and praised Clemmons for his service to the US and his help to Israel.
“Friedman worked at my side in representing President Trump as we prepared and offered the most pro-Israel American political party platform in the history of the allied nations of Israel and the United States of America,” Clemmons told the crowd.
“As an American who deeply cares about Israel, I take great comfort, and no little pride, in knowing that the interests of the United States of America are being well represented in Israel by a mensch.”
Clemmons said the Republican platform they wrote together, which was unanimously adopted on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, led to President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital and will lead to the relocation of America’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in 2019.
Israel should abandon the traditional concept of the two-state solution and instead work to establish a Palestinian state in an expanded Gaza Strip, a retired Israeli general told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
Speaking from Washington DC where he is on a trip with the organization Our Soldiers Speak to promote the idea, Major General (Res.) Gershon Hacohen, former commander of the IDF’s Northern Corps and currently a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, described his vision of a “new state solution” that would replace the widely accepted concept of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Hacohen’s solution would involve the removal of the Hamas government in Gaza and the expansion of the Strip into northern Sinai. This would then become a demilitarized Palestinian state that would be helped to expand economically. As a description of the plan puts it:
With a shoreline no less inviting than that of Tel-Aviv, the New State would boast rich opportunity for trade, commerce, tourism, hotels, resorts, casinos (on or off-shore), import, export, and both an open, commercial airport and an open commercial seaport. Both would be toward the westernmost section of the country. Favorable security coordination would be agreed between Israel, Egypt and the New State. Massive economic investment within the New State would come from all international parties who have pledged their commitment to resolving the conflict. Actors would include the United States, the EU, Great Britain, and both Israel and Egypt; at a minimum.
Hacohen sees this as a clear break with previous attempts at resolving the conflict on the basis of territorial compromise.
Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon told Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alexander Marlow on Thursday that nearly all the chaos and instability in the Middle East is linked back to the Iranian regime.
“Wherever you see chaos and instability, you will find Iranian money,” Danon told host Marlow during an interview on Breitbart News Daily.
Last week, Iran sent an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Syria near the Jordan border into Israeli territory in the north. Danon warned that the Iranian drone that flew into Israel could end up flying into Europe soon, suggesting that the Iranian threat is a global one.
Speaking at the United Nations Security Council this week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said, “The drone flight this week is a wake-up call for all of us. Iran and Hezbollah are making plans to stay in Syria.”
Asked by Marlow how he anticipates the U.N. will react to the incident, Danon said, “Unfortunately, the U.N. Security Council is not willing to condemn the presence of Iran in Syria. And what are seeing today is, the Iranians are bringing into Syria thousands of terrorists, they are putting a lot of money into building infrastructure and building military facilities and rockets and missiles. Basically, they want to take over Syria.” He noted that Lebanon should serve as an example as to why the world cannot allow for this to happen.
The abandoned Palestinian parliament building in Abu Dis is 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles) east of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Knesset is the same distance west of the holy site.
Back when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was serving as deputy to PLO founder Yasser Arafat, Abu Dis was known as “the second Jerusalem,” a temporary substitute before the anticipated permanent division of the city. At the time, Abbas was willing to swallow this bitter pill, and even see Abu Dis decked out with various Palestinian government institutions.
But today the Trump administration is trying to put Abu Dis back on the table as part of the “deal of the century,” and Abbas is denigrating it as the “slap of the century.”
The penny dropped for Abbas when he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in December. In that meeting, he heard for the first time that U.S. President Donald Trump was offering the Palestinians Abu Dis instead of Jerusalem as their capital. That was when Abbas decided to hand the current White House its walking papers, which he did a month later.
Abbas sees the proposal as embarrassing, not to say humiliating. After two Israeli prime ministers – Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert – put the division of Jerusalem on the table (Barak at Camp David in 2000 and Olmert in 2008), the offer of Abu Dis as a capital comes a little too late. Jerusalem was nearly in their grasp, and now someone is pushing them back in time.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed not to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip last year and until Hamas completely cedes control over the coastal enclave, including over its weapons, a former PA minister revealed on Thursday.
Frieh Abu Medien, a former PA minister of justice from the Gaza Strip, said Abbas made his remarks during a meeting he held with him recently.
“I had a chance to meet with President Abbas for the first time in many years to explore the possibility of ending the division (between the West Bank and Gaza Strip),” Abu Medien wrote in an article published in the London-based Rai al-Youm online newspaper.
“It was a frank and clear dialogue,” said Abu Medien referring to the ongoing dispute between Hamas and Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction. Hamas took over Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah in a bloody uprising in 2007. Several attempts to reconcile between the parties have failed and the current attempt has passed a deadline with no action.
“Abbas had the feeling that a storm was brewing,” Abu Medien said.
“He told me: ‘You are from the Gaza Strip and Hamas needs to understand that if it wants reconciliation, it must completely relinquish its rule over the Gaza Strip and allow the Palestinian government to govern and control.’”
The former PA minister quoted Abbas as saying that Hamas should permit the Palestinian government to “control everything, including money and weapons.”
Hamas on Thursday condemned U.S. legislation that denounces the terrorist group’s use of civilians in the Gaza Strip as human shields.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act on Wednesday.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the bill sides with “the Israeli narrative.”
The bill steps up U.S. pressure against Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist organization by Washington and much of the West.
Echoing Israeli complaints, the bill says Hamas routinely instructs Palestinians not to flee from Israeli airstrikes, forcing them to act as “human shields.”
“It is U.S. policy to condemn the use of human shields by Hamas as an act of terrorism and a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to act against those engaging in or supporting the use of human shields,” the bill says.
It also urges President Donald Trump to direct U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley “to use U.S. influence at the U.N. Security Council to secure support for a resolution imposing multilateral sanctions against Hamas’ use of human shields.”
Michal Salomon says she is infuriated that the terrorist who killed her husband, sister, and father last summer during a family event was not sentenced to death on Thursday.
“I think justice would have been done if he got the death penalty but we saw that there was no majority, so apparently justice was not done,” Solomon said after the terrorist was sentenced to four life sentences.
Salomon said she had lobbied several senior government officials in hope of getting the death penalty to no avail. “Everyone told me – the State of Israel does not support the death penalty,” she recalled.
Salomon said she remembers Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit during the shiva mourning period and how he promised to support the death penalty for the terrorist. “The truth is, I really thought it would happen, really had a thought that this murder would shock the country,” Salomon told Channel 2. “Slowly I realized that they didn’t really mean it.”
Salomon strongly denounced Israel’s decision not to seek the death penalty, contending that it harmed the country’s deterrence and led to more terrorism. “Even after our (family’s) murder, which is considered a very shocking murder, there are already new widows and orphans, and nothing has changed,” charged the widow.
Dvora Gonen, mother of Danny Gonen who was murdered in a terrorist attack near the town of Dolev in 2015, on Thursday criticized the punishment of four life sentences that was handed down to the terrorist who murdered the Salomon family in Neve Tzuf.
“Justice has not been served,” Gonen told Arutz Sheva, adding, “What is four life sentences? There is only one sentence – death. I welcome the fact that one of the judges supported the death sentence, that is the justice that should have been served. The terrorist is smiling because he knows where he is going. He will continue to live and his family will receive salaries for life.”
“Anyone who says that justice was served because he got four life sentences is lying to himself and to others. That is not justice. A terrorist who comes to a family on a Friday night with the intention of slaughtering a family on his distorted mind should not continue to live. His sentence must be death and thinking this does not make me a less good Jew or a less moral person,” she continued.
“On the contrary,” stressed the bereaved mother. “Judaism and the true Jewish statement say that he deserves death, that is justice. Today justice was not served, justice was done with the terrorist, not with the victims, not to the family, justice was done with the terrorist who survived and will continue to live.”
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) February 15, 2018
MUST WATCH: @CFoI‘s Parliamentary Chairman in the House of Commons, @SCrabbPembs, reflects on his visit to Israel this week. Stephen led a group of Conservative MPs & Lords on CFI’s delegation to Israel & West Bank. pic.twitter.com/zLIHmhQUSv
— CFoI (@CFoI) February 16, 2018
A security watchpost installed at an entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday night has angered the Palestinians, who are accusing Israel of “changing the Arab and Islamic character” of the city.
Palestinians said Thursday they were planning a series of protests to demand the removal of the two-story structure at the Damascus Gate, the main entrance into the walled city’s Muslim Quarter.
The structure is part of an Israeli plan to improve security measures in the area, following a spate of stabbing and shooting attacks in the past two years.
Two more concrete watchposts are being built at the entrance to Damascus Gate as part of the plan.
The Palestinians also appealed to Arab and Islamic countries to intervene to force Israel to halt the implementation of the new security measures, several months after the installation of metal detectors, after a terror attack in which two Israeli policemen were shot dead outside the ultra-sensitive Temple Mount, sparked days of violent protests.
Any new police or military structure in the flashpoint city has the potential to spark unrest, though, with Palestinians seeing them as an attempt by Israel to solidify its hold on the city.
Israel has suspended the visitation rights for Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israel and is no longer allowing them to receive visits from relatives who live in the West Bank. The move comes in an effort to pressure the terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip to return the remains of two Israeli soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians believed to be being held captive in Gaza.
Hamas is believed to be holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, both killed in the 2014 military campaign in Gaza. It is also believed to be holding Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both suffering from mental illness, who each crossed into Gaza on their own, in 2014 and 2015. A fifth Israeli, Jumaa Abu Ghanima, crossed the border into Gaza in 2016, and his fate remains unknown.
The government announced the measure in response to a High Court of Justice petition filed by the Goldin’s parents.
Until now, the state had only barred security prisoners from receiving visits from relatives who live in the Gaza Strip.
However there is a practical aspect to the age dispute. The age of criminal responsibility† in Israel is eleven. What varies is the punishment if an offender above that age is convicted. A sixteen year old Tamimi might not be imprisoned, at all, or be placed in a juvenile facility. An eighteen year old could face adult prison.
The ‘right’ to resist occupation
I have lost count of how often someone has claimed that international law allows Palestinians to ‘resist occupation’ by any means. Therefore Israel has no right to arrest Tamimi or anyone.
So apparently there are no rules to limit Palestinian violence.
They couldn’t be more wrong about powers of arrest. Just ask the Red Cross. The Fourth Geneva Convention specifies that a civilian may only be interned or placed in assigned residence if “the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary” (Article 42) or, in occupied territory, for “imperative reasons of security” (Article 78).
In addition to incitement, the charges against Ahed Tamimi include two counts of aggravated assault of a soldier, two counts of stone-throwing, two counts of threatening a soldier and four counts of obstructing a soldier in execution of his duty. No doubt Tamimi’s lawyers will argue that slapping, biting and interfering with a soldier in performance of his duties is a small potatoes security threat.
Would someone explain to me why someone who violently resists occupation isn’t reclassified as a combatant and therefore loses all protection as a civilian?
Juvenile justice in the territories
Minors who are residents of Jerusalem – East and West, and regardless of their colour, race, or religion – are subject to Israeli civilian criminal law and procedures. The same applies, since September 2005, to Palestinians from Gaza.
Israel Haters make the propaganda point that military courts are used in the territories as if that automatically implies injustice. However according to Articles 64 and 66 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, use of non-political, military courts are required in occupied territories.
In July 2009 special military courts were established for juveniles. The rules of evidence applied are the same rules of evidence applied in the Israeli civilian courts. Military judges are certified as juvenile military judges only after attending a specifically designed and designated course. After their first certification, the juvenile military judges undergo periodic additional training and review.
The Israeli government dissolved seven nongovernmental organizations and associations in 2017 after it was proved they were affiliated with the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, which was outlawed in November 2015 over its support for terrorism.
Among the seven were QPress, which purported to provide professional services to legal institutions and associations to promote and market public projects, the Almasra Association, which claimed to raise funds for educational and cultural projects, and the El-Assara Association for the Development of Society, which engaged in fundraising for NGOs.
Liquidation proceedings are ongoing for another NGO also believed to be associated with the Islamic Movement.
The Registrar of Associations in Israel headed the proceedings against all the NGOs, which were put on notice. The decision to ask the courts to dissolve them was made in conjunction with the Israeli Corporations Authority’s Enforcement Division and the Justice Ministry.
Another NGO, Al-Akara, which claimed to promote higher education in the Arab sector, was dissolved in 2016.
Following Israel’s downing of the Iranian drone that entered its airspace on February 10, 2018 and its subsequent attack on the drone’s command center in Syria, Hamas and other major Palestinian factions such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, condemned the Israeli attacks and announced that their military wings were raising their level of alert. The statements and announcements issued by the various factions stressed that all the resistance axis fronts confronting Israel constituted a single front, and that any Israeli attack on the other resistance axis fronts – i.e., in Syria or Lebanon – would be met with a response by the Palestinians in Gaza. This message was also repeated in articles and commentary in Hamas-affiliated papers and websites.
In an interview given by Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam, an advisor to Iran’s foreign minister, to the Hamas mouthpiece Al-Risala, he said that there is “a strategic move to form a unified front in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza,” and that “the activity to form this front has not stopped, but is increasing.” These statements follow numerous meetings and contacts in recent months among various resistance axis elements, which also addressed the possibility of joint action against Israel.
The statements by Sheikh Al-Islam correspond to Iran’s years-long policy of acting by means of its proxies, a policy from which it deviated momentarily several days ago when it sent its drone into Israeli airspace. It should be mentioned that Iran recently stepped up its preparations for a strike against Israel by revealing the direct contacts of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. There have also been increased visits by Iranian officials on the Lebanon-Israel border.”
The report reviews statements by Hamas and the Palestinian factions about forming a joint resistance front against Israel following the February 10 events in Syria.
Jordanian Friday Sermon by Imam Ahmad Al-Rawashdeh: Allah Gathered the Jews in Palestine So That It Would Be Possible to Annihilate Them; Benjamin Franklin Called to Banish the Jews from America pic.twitter.com/KIIXP3saMc
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) February 16, 2018
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told a US envoy on Friday that Lebanon rejects current proposals over the disputed marine borders with Israel, state media said.
US diplomats have been mediating between Lebanon and Israel over tensions including an Israeli border wall and Lebanon’s decision to begin exploring for offshore energy near a disputed patch of water, officials said.
Acting Assistant US Secretary of State David Satterfield also met Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Friday.
“What is proposed is unacceptable,” Lebanon’s NNA cited Berri as saying in a meeting with Satterfield.
This was an apparent reference to a maritime demarcation line proposed by US diplomat Frederic Hof in 2012. The line would give Lebanon around two thirds and Israel around one third of a disputed triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles).
A source in Berri’s camp said Satterfield came with “a new plan… after the American side became convinced” that Lebanon would not accept the Hof line.
It is unclear exactly what the new US suggestion to Lebanon regarding the disputed waters involves.
A top Iranian general lashed out at Israel during a ceremony marking ten years since the death of Hezbollah military chief Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a 2008 car bombing in Damascus that Hezbollah blamed on Israel.
Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, pledged retaliation for the Mughniyeh’s assassination. Before his assassination, Mughniyeh was one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.
The appropriate revenge for Mughniyeh’s slaying is “not launching one missile or killing one person,” Soleimani declared, “but the dismantling and uprooting of the baby-killing Zionist regime.”
Iranian leaders have long called for destruction of Israel. In 2015, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel would be extinct in 25 years.
Iran does not recognize Israel and supports terrorist groups such as Hamas and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Iran’s president strongly criticized the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and urged Muslims to support the Palestinian cause.
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