Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Why a “Regional Peace Process” Will Fail
Many Palestinians sometimes refer to Arab leaders and regimes as the “real enemies” of the Palestinians. They would rather have France, Sweden, Norway and Belgium oversee a peace process with Israel than any of the Arab countries.
Hani al-Masri, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, echoed this skepticism. He, in fact, believes the Arabs want to help Israel “liquidate” the Palestinian cause.
The Jordanians are worried that a “regional solution” would promote the idea of replacing the Hashemite kingdom with a Palestinian state. Former Jordanian Minister of Information Saleh al-Qallab denounced the talk of a “regional conference” as a “poisonous gift and conspiracy” against Jordan and the Palestinians.
The Lebanese have for decades dreamed of the day they could rid themselves of the Palestinian refugee camps and their inhabitants, who have long been subjected to apartheid and discriminatory laws.
Israel as a Jewish state is anathema to Palestinian aspirations. Any Arab or Palestinian leader who promotes such compromise is taking his life in his hands. And Palestinian history will record him as a “traitor” who sold out to the Jews and surrendered to American and Israeli pressure.
Abbas and his Ramallah cohorts are already up at night worrying about the talking between Israel and some Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Such “normalization”, in the view of the PA, is to be reserved for after Israel submits to its demands.
Any “regional solution” involving Arab countries would be doomed to fail because the Palestinians and their Arab brethren hate each other. Any solution offered by the Arab governments will always be regarded as an “American-Zionist dictate.”
Here is what Palestinians really want: to use the Europeans to impose a “solution” on Israel.
Katz’s plan, which he says has been adopted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is regional and multilayered. And if all goes smoothly, there might be some type of autonomous, demilitarized Palestinian entity at the tail end.
“Netanyahu went to America after many discussions here in which we spoke about the idea for regional peace, based on security and economic considerations in the region,” said Katz in an interview with The Washington Post.
“I told the prime minister that the goal should be to deal less with labels and more with content,” said Katz, who also serves as Israel’s minister of transportation.
This was the one of the messages Netanyahu shared in a news conference with President Trump in the White House earlier this month.
Responding to a journalist’s question asking if the prime minister had come to Washington to tell the president he is backing off from the solution of two states for two people — the Israelis and the Palestinians — Netanyahu said: “Rather than deal with labels, I want to deal with substance. It’s something I’ve hoped to do for years in a world that’s absolutely fixated on labels and not on substance.”
“I am against two states. As one White House official pointed [out] – ‘if you ask five people what two states would look like, you’d get eight different answers,’ ” said Katz, a member of Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet.
Katz said this point and others made recently by the new U.S. administration has made clear that Trump will allow Israel to find its own solution, in its own time.
Trump, he said, has opened up the playing field for peace.
Trent Franks: Israel’s ally serving in the White House
As President Obama’s days in office were coming to an end, he and Secretary of State John Kerry broke with over 20 years of bipartisan precedent by refusing to veto a resolution at the UN Security Council designed to undermine Israel’s right to exist. The resolution, orchestrated by the Obama administration, went to such an outrageous extent it would categorize even places like the Western Wall as occupied territory. This overt betrayal by Obama of our closest ally reinforced the position of the ubiquitous antisemites at the UN.
The cowardly refusal of the Obama administration to confirm to the world who our allies are left President Donald Trump in the very uncomfortable position of having to do damage control before he was even sworn in. If anything should serve as unequivocal confirmation to the entire world of America’s commitment to Israel and the Jewish people, it is the president’s choice of Dr. Sebastian Gorka as White House deputy assistant.
I am compelled to respond with disgust to recent attempts in the press and on social media to libel this American patriot. Dr. Gorka truly understands the existential threat Global Jihadism poses to both America and Israel. He has repeatedly stated that groups like al-Qaida and Islamic State (ISIS) share a totalitarian bond with the Fascists and Nazis who threatened the world in the 20th century. To associate him in any way with such ideologies is repugnant and a prime example of “fake news.”
Most disturbing of all is the attempt to portray Dr. Gorka as in any way antisemitic. Having called upon his expertise on counterterrorism repeatedly in Congress and used his analysis to inform our work, I can attest that he is a deep and relentless friend of Israel and the Jewish people.
Sebastian Gorka’s service to the nation, his reputation, and his national security credentials are all unimpeachable and I am delighted that Israel and the Jewish people have such an ally serving our president in the White House.
The author is serving his eighth term in Congress and is the chairman of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus.
AUSTRALIA – Greg Sheridan exposes the frauds — Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd and Gareth Evans — calling for Australia to formally recognise a Palestinian state.
Read and weep to see how moral vanity corrupts thought:
What a caterwauling coven of craven zeitgeist whisperers they are — Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd and Gareth Evans — calling for Australia to formally recognise a Palestinian state…
Hawke and Rudd, particularly, are always keen to lavish themselves with praise and moral credentials they simply do not possess. Thus Hawke in his Australian Financial Review piece described himself as a well-known supporter of Israel. What a lame, many-of-my-best-friends-are-black sort of credential this is. Hawke hasn’t been a supporter of Israel in any meaningful sense for 30 years.
His piece was full of weird basic errors of fact. He claims the Netanyahu government has approved thousands of new West Bank settlements. In fact it has approved just one. Apart from that one settlement, the individual homes and apartments it has authorised do not even keep pace with natural increase within the settlement blocs and do not extend their territory, which in total accounts for 3 to 4 per cent of the West Bank area.
Rudd was even more fatuous and hypocritical, claiming Netanyahu had repeatedly torpedoed peace — without giving a syllable’s attention to times the Palestinian leadership has rejected full-blown peace offers along the lines of a state in the West Bank and Gaza and compensating land swaps from Israel. Then there was Gareth Evans, the poor man’s Rudd, claiming the Arabs could provide for Israel’s security. What planet does this man live on? Most Arab states cannot provide for their own security, much less anyone else’s.
Israel captured the West Bank in a defensive war in 1967 and, when its offer to exchange land for peace was unequivocally rebuffed by the Arab League, began establishing settlements in the area. This was partly for the need for security, given the hostile intentions and actions of its neighbors, and partly to allow some Jews to live in places that had Jewish communities going back hundreds if not thousands of years, until the Jordanians ethnically cleansed them in 1948.
Under the 1993 Oslo accords the Palestinian Authority was formed. 95% of West Bank Palestinians now live under the authority’s rule.
In 2000, then authority president Yasser Arafat refused the Camp David offer of a Palestinian state and launched the second intifada, characterized by widespread terrorism inside pre-1967 Israel, most notably suicide bombings, that killed more than 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands more.
Israel again offered the Palestinian Authority a state on increasingly generous terms in 2001 and 2008, only for the authority to again walk away.
A unilateral total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, intended to allow the Palestinians there to rule themselves as a peaceful entity alongside Israel, instead resulted in a Hamas takeover, more than 10,000 rockets and mortars, terror tunnels and three wars.
The settlements, as even Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has admitted, occupy less than 2% of the West Bank. Furthermore, the vast majority of settlers live in blocs that it is generally accepted Israel will retain in any peace deal. Settlements did not prevent the previous Israeli offers of statehood, and they would not prevent a two-state outcome if the Israelis had a genuine peace partner.
An eclectic crowd of people gathered outside Sydney Town Hall on Thursday evening to protest the visit to Australia of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As is usual at such events the crowd consisted of an assortment of people – bearded, angry-visaged men, women in hijabs, fair-haired twenty-somethings hawking ‘Socialist Alternative’ merchandise, and a small number of middle-aged matrons of European background.
The speakers included Greens state MP, David Shoebridge, state Labor MP Julia Finn, Randa Abdel-Fattah, among others. In the crowd were Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and state Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane. Shoebridge railed against “the State of Israel and the right-wing cabal of that state,” language that would have gladdened the hearts of antisemitic Jewish conspiracy theorists of all political hues.
The speeches were boring, repetitive and wholly predictable.
“Israel must cease to exist. Israel is a racist occupier. The occupation must end. The Palestinian refugees must return to Israel. Israel must be eliminated. Support BDS.”
Palestinian leaders and their uncritical supporters in the West have been stuck in this same old conceptual rut for 100 years, and their people have suffered the consequences.
In summary, 45% of the 796 words produced by the BBC concerning the Israeli prime minister’s visit to Australia amplified criticism of that visit. 39% of the total word count was given over to the topic of ‘the conflict’ while 9.5% of the word count provided background information concerning the visit.
A mere 2% of the total word count related to the aim of the official visit, with BBC audiences receiving no information whatsoever about the research and travel agreements signed between the two countries.
Clearly the framing chosen by the BBC for this story was a lot less about providing audiences with an objective and informative account of the first official visit of an Israeli prime minister to Australia than it was about influencing audience perceptions through promotion of a politically motivated narrative.
Like a puzzle composed of only two pieces, two cabinet ministers separately delivered remarks last week, granting the Israeli public an interesting glimpse into the current reality of the balance of power in the Middle East.
First was Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who broadly described the main elements of Iran’s intelligence activities in the Middle East during his speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday. His remarks included an expression of concern for a third, far-off country, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. “They are trying to create chaos in every place,” Liberman said of the Iranians. “And there main target is Saudi Arabia.”
Since when does the defense minister of Israel care about the hardships of Saudi Arabia? The answer was provided the next day by Liberman’s fellow cabinet member, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz. “Yes, there is cooperation between Israel and these countries, which cannot be discussed in detail,” Katz explained. “This cooperation is going to be significantly upgraded, because the US is going to lead it. The first goal is to block Iran and push it out of the area.”
The two ministers are correct: Iran’s efforts to act against Israel are currently reaching record heights. The Iranians, encouraged by their success in saving the Assad regime in Syria, have declared a quiet war on Israel. Their approach is two-pronged. In Gaza, they are providing Hamas’s military wing with weapons and money. On the northern border, they are working tirelessly to fill Hezbollah’s weapons warehouses with precision missiles, which are liable to cause battlefield losses for the IDF and the Air Force. More than a decade after the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah is being built into a force that rivals that of a national army.
Former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold is going to author a global best seller one day when he feels the time is ripe, or he gets permission to declassify his clandestine meetings with people from enemy camps.
Gold, who also formerly served as Israeli envoy to the UN and is currently president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, shared the tip of the iceberg of what may one day be a book on Sunday night with an overflow audience at an event organized by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) at Yad Ben Zvi in Jerusalem.
Gold, who was invited to speak about Israel’s foreign relations, did his best to dispel what he considers to be false perceptions of Israel’s isolation. Last year, while on his way to the Herzliya conference, he happened to glance at his cell phone and saw on the Internet that on Ynet there was an article whose author contended that Israel was in a terrible state of isolation. According to Gold, there’s a huge gap between misconception and reality on the ground. Israel is far from isolated, and more countries which either severed diplomatic ties with Israel, or never had them, are now interested in forging contacts with the Jewish state. Not all are willing to go as far as establishing diplomatic relations, and not all are willing to make their connections with Israel public – but that does not mean that it’s not happening.
Gold, without disclosing too much detail, spoke of his secret meetings with former Saudi General Anwar Eshki, who is head of the Middle East Center for Strategy and Legal Studies, and who is also close to the Saudi Government.
According to recent estimates, there are fewer than 50,000 living Arab refugees from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, but the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)—an organization dedicated solely to the needs of Palestinians—caters to a population of over five million, composed of any descendants of the original refugees on the male line including even their great-grandchildren. Much good would be done, argue Richard Schifter and Eric Rozenman, by ending UNRWA’s independence:
Over the years, UNRWA has helped prolong the refugee problem it was created to resolve. A self-perpetuating bureaucracy, UNRWA also functions as an employment agency with a reported 30,000 staffers—most Palestinian and some having come from terrorist groups like Hamas. It boasts an annual budget of $1.3 billion, of which American taxpayers provide $400 million.
In the 2014 Gaza war, . . . UNRWA facilities—including schools and clinics—served wittingly or unwittingly as weapons depots and launch pads or as “shields” against retaliation for attacks staged from adjacent properties. During periods of quiet, anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish curricula in UNRWA schools have indoctrinated future generations of rejectionists and terror recruits.
A United Nations agency said on Sunday it was suspending a Gaza staffer accused of being politically active in the terror group Hamas, which rules the coastal strip.
UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, said the decision had already been taken ahead of an Israeli call earlier Sunday to fire Suhail al-Hindi, head of the agency’s staff union.
“Before that communication, and in light of our ongoing independent internal investigation, we had been presented with substantial information from a number of sources, which led us to take the decision this afternoon to suspend Suhail al Hindi, pending the outcome of our investigation,” UNRWA spokeswoman Chris Gunness wrote.
COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, says that al-Hindi was appointed to the terror group’s leadership in a February 13 internal election.
He was chosen “as a senior Hamas member from Jabalia in northern Gaza,” it said in an English-language statement.
World-renowned law professor Alan Dershowitz told The Algemeiner on Sunday that he will not be leaving the Democratic Party, as he announced he would do in the event of a victory for Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison in Saturday’s Democratic National Committee elections.
Instead, he said — in the wake of former Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s victory over Ellison — he will “remain and fight hard for it to move toward the center and away from the anti-Israel and far-Left trends” that have become dominant of late.
Dershowitz, a long-time and fierce defender of the Jewish state — and member of the Democratic Party — called Ellison’s defeat “a good sign that we can win, though it will not be easy.”
Still, he said, “I wish Perez had not appointed Ellison as his deputy. I consider Ellison to be disqualified, due to his association with Nation of Islam leader the Reverend Louis Farakhan; his denial that Farakhan is an antisemite; and because he opposed providing the Iron Dome missile defense system to Israel.”
Israel’s former spymaster Efraim Halevy urged Israel to reach out to Russia in its efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program and other ambitions, since Moscow, unlike Washington, has direct influence over Tehran.
Halevy was setting out his view of the world today, from Vladmir Putin’s Russia to Donald Trump’s America and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel, at Jerusalem’s Beit Shmuel theater on Sunday night, in an event sponsored by The Times of Israel.
“If you’re an Israeli prime minister and you want to rein in Iran, why would you go to Washington?” the London-born Halevy, speaking from over four decades of experience in the Mossad, asked rhetorically. “If you go to Washington and say your biggest problems are: Iran, Iran and Iran,” he said, referring to Netanyahu’s White House talks with US President Donald Trump earlier this month, “what do you say in Moscow?”
Halevy, 82, who stressed he was no longer briefed on the work of the Mossad and didn’t want to be — he said dryly that he carries enough secrets already — also advocated attempting to speak directly with Iran and with most of Israel’s other foes.
“It is essential to talk to your enemy. You must do it, but we haven’t been,” he said. “We have to talk to Hamas. We must talk to [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal. Everybody’s talking to him.” (Halevy was brought out of retirement by Netanyahu to head the Mossad in 1998, having salavaged Israel’s ties with Jordan following a botched Mossad assassination attempt on Mashaal’s life in Amman the previous year.)
With the Trump Administration’s controversial new Middle Eastern policy of
not being Iran’s bitchrenewed skepticism toward traditional adversaries and not telling allies where their nation’s capital is, critics fear that if things don’t change quickly, the region may face a renewed outbreak of Thomas Friedman.
Noted author, New York Times columnist, and pundit Thomas Friedman, who had something relevant to say as recently as Bill Clinton’s second term, is somewhat of a worst-case scenario, involving baklava anecdotes, talking to the audience on Face the Nation like he’s talking to a somewhat slow four-year old, and the inevitable name-dropping reference to the late King Hussein of Jordan. The Daily Freier spoke off the record with several Inside-the-Beltway experts about their fears.
“The Administration really needs to tone it down.” explained a career diplomat from a Western European nation currently stationed in Washington. “The moment Trump announced that he might move the Embassy, I was like ‘Oh boy. It’s only a matter of time before Thomas Friedman makes some goofy metaphor involving Shimon Peres, the New England Patriots, and his latest Uber Driver.’ I just wish Trump’s team would be more cautious. We’re dealing with serious stuff.”
“Do those guys want Friedman to write another sequel to the Lotus and the Olive Tree???” admonished a retired Army Officer from his Northern Virginia home. “Because this is how we get another sequel to the Lotus and the Olive Tree.”
The formal recognition of “Palestine” as a state by all nations is the best way to preserve the two-state solution, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday as he addressed the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“We call on countries that have recognized Israel and believe in the two-state solution to defend and support this solution by recognizing the State of Palestine,” he added.
His message was directed at Western powers, most of whom believe that recognition of a Palestinian state should occur after an agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Palestine will remain the greatest test for this Council, and its success in defending human rights in Palestine will determine the sustainability of human rights across the world. We must not fail this test,” Abbas said.
Israeli aircraft attacked targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon in retaliation for a rocket attack early that morning. Palestinian media outlets reported that the aircraft hit Hamas positions in northern Gaza.
The rocket fired from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning hit an open field in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council in southern Israel.
The Color Red alert was not activated, as the Iron Dome defense system identified that the rocket did not pose a threat to residential areas. There were no injuries or property damage from the rocket, the IDF said in a statement.
Last Monday, two rockets fired from Sinai hit southern Israel, exploding in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council.
Wilayat Sinai (“Sinai Province”), Islamic State’s proxy in the desert peninsula, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The latest rocket fire followed reports by the Islamic State-affiliated Amaq news agency that four of the jihadi group’s operatives were killed on Saturday night in an Israeli drone strike in northern Sinai, near the Egyptian town of Rafah, along the border with Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated his warning that Israel will not allow any “drizzle” of rocket fire on its territory from enemy entities.
“We respond to all fire at our territory; thus we did today and as such we will do in the future,” the premier underscored hours after a projectile launched by terrorists exploded in an open field in southern Israel overnight.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that while Israel has no intention of initiating any military action in Gaza, “we have no intention to continue to absorb drizzles (of rockets out of the Strip).”
“We will not get into a ping-pong situation of fire and counter-fire. I suggest Hamas take responsibility, impose order and calm down,” Lieberman said in public remarks to legislators of his Yisrael Beytenu party in Jerusalem.
Hamas on Monday warned it “will not accept continued aggression” by Israel in the Gaza Strip, hours after Israeli Air Force jets struck several of the terror group’s installations in response to an early-morning rocket attack on Israel’s south.
“Israel bears full responsibility for the escalation in the Gaza Strip and for the aggression against civilians and the resistance forces,” the Islamist terror group that runs the Palestinian enclave said in a statement.
“We will not accept continued aggression against sites belonging to the resistance forces… and we will not allow the establishment of a new status quo,” the statement said.
The Gaza-based terror group Hamas has at least 15 attack tunnels that reach into Israeli territory, according to a Channel 2 report aired Sunday, quoting unnamed sources in the high-level security cabinet.
Sunday’s report on the new cross-border tunnels came two days ahead of the scheduled publication of a damning state comptroller report on the 2014 Gaza war.
Leaked copies of the report have been highly critical of the army’s failures to prepare adequately for the threat of Hamas tunnels, and chastise the political leadership for improperly managing the war effort.
Israel’s 50-day campaign against Hamas in Gaza, known in Israel as Operative Protective Edge, began as a predominantly aerial campaign in response to repeated rocket attacks from the Strip, similar to the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense. But after Hamas made use of its tunnel network to carry out attacks inside Israel, the focus shifted to tackling the subterranean threat.
Although some 34 tunnels were destroyed during the campaign, Hamas has reportedly invested considerable resources rehabilitating its network of attack tunnels over the past few years. The IDF has also sought to improve its ability to counter the threat since the 2014 conflict.
The Haifa District Court on Monday sentenced Shlomo Pinto, 33, to 11 years in prison for attempted murder, for stabbing a fellow Jewish man he mistook for an Arab in a revenge attack.
Pinto, from the northern town of of Kiryat Ata, was convicted in December 2016 for the attempted murder of Uriel Rizkin in October 2015. He was also given an 18-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay NIS 50,000 to Rizkin.
On the morning of October 13, 2015, Pinto left his home at 11 a.m. carrying a kitchen knife, a box-cutter and a hammer, and made his way to Zvulun Street in the center of the town “in order to find an Arab and kill him,” according to the indictment. Pinto entered a Kiryat Ata supermarket and, believing Rizkin, a clerk, was an Arab, approached him from behind and stabbed him four times.
In court on Monday, a panel of judges noted that Pinto “acted out of a sense of revenge and ideological motivation, and a desire to inspire people to act like him, when the only purpose is to hurt the victim of Arab origin and to kill him.”
In recent months Abbas cut back Dahlan’s political power. One of the reasons Abbas has denied any important position in the Fatah leadership to Marwan Barghouti, who is imprisoned in Israel, is that Barghouti is a comrade of Dahlan’s.
Time, however, is working against Abbas because of his advanced age and state of health. Senior officials in Fatah and the Israeli security establishment do not believe he will be able to put a stop to Dahlan’s activities and render him ineffectual.
Dahlan has great popularity and numerous supporters in Gaza and has also succeeded to establish armed strongholds in the refugee camps of the West Bank and Lebanon.
A successful businessman who is also involved in large arms deals, Dahlan’s great wealth enables him to conduct independent political activity and constantly recruit new supporters.
Thus, Dahlan’s political weakness is merely temporary. The moment Abbas is incapacitated by advanced age or for other reasons, the political rules of the game will change, and the game will open up again.
Dahlan is a seasoned politician. He has managed to gain the support of Arab states against the odds, and he has a talent for forging political connections and new alliances. Hence, he has not yet said his last word about the PA succession struggle.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah came under fire this week for remaining defiant in the wake of reports of possible reductions in international aid.
At a press conference with United Nations Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov, Hamdallah unveiled the Palestinian Authority’s new economic plan and said: “To those who think they can pressure us by cutting aid, I say: We will never give it up and if needed we will live on onion and lentils.”
Hamdallah was mocked by Palestinians on social media for echoing similar comments made by his archenemy, former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who told his compatriots to make do with oil and za’atar.
“This government does realize that we’re sick of onion and lentils and sick of oil and za’atar,” Hani Ali tweeted. “It’s really a stupid government.”
In the last few days, dozens of Coptic Christian families fled El Arish in north Sinai amid an ongoing campaign of murder and threats waged against them by the Islamic State (ISIS). According to reports, at least seven Coptic civilians were killed by ISIS operatives in the city in recent weeks, prompting Coptic families to flee to mainland Egypt. Some Egyptian sources claim that 85 of the 103 Coptic families in the city have fled; other sources place the figure at 45. Some of these families have taken refuge in the Anglican church in Ismailia, while others have fled to Suez, Minya or Sohag. The Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily noted that this is the first mass-exodus of Christian families from their homes for reasons of terror.
It should be mentioned that the targeting of Copts is only one manifestation of ISIS’s ongoing activity in El Arish and in north Sinai at large aimed at intimidating the local population and preventing the Egyptian authorities from regaining control of the region. This activity includes demonstrations of force in El Arish, raids on the security forces and attacks on security personnel or their homes, the abduction and murder of civilians for cooperating with the authorities, efforts to enforce shari’a law, and the vandalizing of property, among other actions.
One of the Copts who fled the city described the threats faced by his community: “Lately, murders of Christians increased significantly. People are being murdered every day, and I think it will [only] get worse. The terrorists openly declared they would attack the Christians. I can’t blame the police, because the security situation in Sinai is very bad and terrorism is on the rise.” El Arish Copts said they had received threatening phone calls demanding that they leave their homes, and that ISIS activists had handed out fliers in the city threatening the Christians.
Lionel Messi, one of the world’s most celebrated footballers, arrived in Egypt this week as part of a government campaign to resurrect the medical tourism industry, a vital source of revenue that has dwindled since the 2011 Arab Spring revolution and the political instability that followed.
Messi’s visit had been postponed twice, once in December after an Alexandria church bombing and again when his team, Barcelona, lost to Paris Saint Germain in the European championship.
His Egypt visit was specifically aimed at promoting Egypt as a medical tourism destination for hepatitis C patients.
Many social media users welcomed Messi to Egypt with the hashtag #Egypt_welcomes_Messi, but others derided him as “pro-Israel.”
In late January, the Islamic Republic tested a ballistic missile. As the nuclear deal makes no mention of such missiles—despite the fact that they are designed to deliver nuclear warheads—and the deal’s accompanying UN resolution loosens previous restrictions on Tehran’s missile program, the ayatollahs could press the claim, however dubious, that the test was legal. But after a firm reaction from the American government, Iran canceled a subsequent planned missile test. Emily Landau sees this as a sign that the new U.S. approach is working:
The Trump administration is not buying Iran’s excuses—and for good reason: Iran’s attempt to explain away any wrongdoing through such legalistic gymnastics rests on very shaky ground. The reality that Iran refuses to acknowledge is that it actually did work on [an illegal] military nuclear program in the past and it never demonstrated that it left those ambitions behind. . . . [Thus] there is no reason to believe that Iran will never equip its nuclear-capable missiles with a nuclear warhead; therefore, these missiles could very well have been (and most likely were) designed with that in mind. . . .
[T]he Trump administration responded to the latest missile test quickly and firmly. It immediately called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the test, and the national security adviser, Michael Flynn (who has since resigned), then issued a statement that “put Iran on notice” while informing the Iranians that the U.S. will no longer be turning a blind eye to their provocations. Sanctions were quickly imposed on 25 Iranian individuals and companies involved in Iran’s ballistic-missile program and with connections to terrorist activities. . . .
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter Sunday to U.S. President Donald Trump in which he lauded immigration to the United States and said the “U.S. belongs to all nations.”
The letter, containing more than 3,500 words, comes as criticism of Trump mounts in Tehran over his travel ban, which affects seven Muslim-majority countries including Iran. It may also serve to bolster Ahmadinejad’s image domestically after the nation’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned him not to run in Iran’s upcoming presidential election in May.
In the letter, published by Iranian media outlets, Ahmadinejad noted that Trump won the election while he “truthfully described the U.S. political system and electoral structure as corrupt.”
Ahmadinejad decried U.S. “dominance” over the United Nations, as well as American meddling in the world that has brought “insecurity, war, division, killing, and displacement of nations.”
Iranian leader, Hassan Rouhani, has accepted an invitation to be the guest of honor at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
His spokesmen commented, “The President was deeply honored by the invitation and is already hard at work on his speech, which I can assure you is going to be full of ‘zingers’. He recognizes the religious leanings of his audience so he’ll be limiting the Zionist jibes and will only be telling one holocaust joke. But that will be the one about his father falling out of the watchtower, which everyone agrees is hilarious.”
He continued, “President Rouhani fully appreciated the medium of the ‘roast’. It’s a little remarked fact that after imprisonment without trial and public executions, it’s his third most popular form of dealing with human rights protesters. So, he knows what he’s getting himself into.”
“He’s certainly going to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity knowing that the last US president to not attend was Ronald Reagan. And his only excuse was he was recovering from being shot. What a ‘snowflake’, as I believe Tomi Lahren would say.”
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