April 21, 2024

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05/16 Links Pt1: Madonna confirmed at last for Eurovision performance in Tel Aviv; U.S. to UN: You yourself rejected withdrawal to ’67 lines; ‘Nakba Day’ Simply Infantilizes Arab Aggression


From Ian:

Madonna confirmed at last for Eurovision performance in Tel Aviv
Madonna’s producers said in April the star would perform at the contest in Tel Aviv, which was designated the host city after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won in Portugal last year.

Her participation brought a flurry of protest from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has for years been pushing for investors and artists to shun Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians, among other critiques.

“I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be,” Madonna said, in a statement carried by US media Tuesday.

She brings with her an entourage of 135 people, including the rapper KoVu, 40 backing singers, 25 dancers and a team of technicians, according to reports citing the Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams, said to be footing a large part of the bill for her performance.

Twenty-six out of an original 41 contestants will battle for first place in the three-and-a-half-hour live broadcast, which kicks off Saturday at 9 p.m. Israel time.

Madonna will perform in the interval.

Shalva band readies for guest gig after nixing Eurovision bid over Shabbat

The Shalva Band, which dropped its widely supported bid to represent Israel at Eurovision after organizers refused to budge on the group’s request not to perform on Shabbat, rehearsed Wednesday for a performance as guest artists at the song contest’s semifinals on Thursday evening.

“We are very excited to get on stage with smiles on our faces,” band member Yair Pomberg told Channel 12 news. “We are going to do the best possible job we can.”

His bandmate, Yosef Ovadia, told a press conference that the group has wide-ranging support ahead of their performance.

“I think that what we are going to do here at the second semifinal of the contest — I feel that the people of Israel and the people of the world are with us,” Ovadia said.

The band — made up of musicians with disabilities, some of whom are observant Jews — was named as a finalist on the reality TV show “Rising Star,” which determines Israel’s entry for the annual song contest taking place this week in Tel Aviv.

The group quit the show over the prospect of being forced to break the Jewish day of rest if selected as the winner.

Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams filming Eurovision movie in Tel Aviv

The 2019 Eurovision in Tel Aviv is undeniably star-studded. But on the sidelines of the show are two more world-famous celebrities: Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell.

The duo are in town to shoot an upcoming Netflix film about – you guessed it – the Eurovision. Ferrell is the brains behind the movie, titled Eurovision, and it is being directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers).

In addition to Ferrell, McAdams is appearing in the film, and even took a photo with Eurovision co-host Assi Azar on the sidelines of the contest this week.

Unlike most Americans, Ferrell is a fan of the European singing extravaganza, as he was introduced to it by his Swedish-born wife, Viveca Paulin. Ferrell was also in attendance at the Eurovision last year in Lisbon, Portugal, where Israel’s Netta Barzilai took home the top prize. Netflix announced the Eurovision satire film last summer, and Dobkin and McAdams signed on earlier this year.

PMW: Fatah calls to boycott Eurovision, adopts BDS campaign

Israel is hosting this year’s Eurovision song contest, and millions across the world are watching the semi-finals this week, before the grand final on Saturday. Angry that Israel is hosting one of Europe’s most important cultural celebrations, Abbas’ Fatah Movement has been calling for a boycott of the event. Knowing the world’s sensitivity to images of dead children, Fatah presented the libelous cartoon above of a microphone made of a rifle, and with bullets and a Palestinian child shot dead, lying in a pool of blood, as if the child had been intentionally murdered by Israel, under the hashtag #BoycottEurovision2019.

Similarly, the official Palestinian Authority daily printed this cartoon of the word “Eurovision” with a Palestinian boy being hung from a treble clef that replaces the “v” in “Eurovision.”

However, it is Hamas that bears full responsibility for the civilian deaths and murdered children in the Gaza Strip because it places its missile launchers in residential areas, and proudly boasts of using civilians as human shields, as documented several times by Palestinian Media Watch.

BDS-campaigners have also called on pop star Madonna not to perform at Eurovision in Tel Aviv. Madonna is scheduled to sing during the finals on Saturday. Joining the BDS-call, Fatah posted several images under the hashtag #MadonnaDontGo, among them:

Blast from the Past: Israel’s First Eurovision Win

Israel’s first win of Eurovision came in 1978, followed up by another victory in 1979. Izhar Cohen, who won it for Israel the first time, remember it quite well. Our Tracy Alexander has the story.

U.S. to UN: You yourself rejected withdrawal to ’67 lines – analysis

The Trump administration challenged the UN’s claim that Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, in an opinion piece two of its top officials published on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman argued that the historic Security Council Resolution 242 – which the international community often cites as the basis of its claim that Israel is required to relinquish all territory it acquired during the June 1967 Six Day War – bolsters the international legitimacy of the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

Their argument, however, could also be applicable to the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan in 1967.

Speculation is high that the Trump peace plan, which is expected to be released in early June, would allow for Israel to retain control of all the settlements located in Area C of the West Bank.

Arguments about Resolution 242 – passed in November 1967 – have often centered around a single sentence, which calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Nothing but the Truth

Jason Greenblatt faced a room full of naysayers last week at the United Nations. But in his determined speech, he gave little indication that he was willing to let their opposition stop him.

The Trump administration’s special representative for international negotiations appeared at a Security Council meeting on the Israeli settlements, one that sought to highlight how Israeli building in the West Bank represents an “obstruction” to peace and is a violation of international law. This kind of parley is nothing new at the United Nations. As Greenblatt pointed out, there have been nearly 700 resolutions condemning Israel since its founding in 1948, what he called the “obvious, continual anti-Israel bias” at the world body.

Greenblatt’s appearance comes just weeks before the Trump administration plans to release its peace plan, which he has been working on for two years along with senior advisor Jared Kushner and US Ambassador to Israel David Freidman. The details of the plan that have so far surfaced indicate that Israel will likely favor it while the Palestinians will outright reject it. In fact, the Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, has already called the proposal “born dead” and indicated that there are “no partners in Palestine for Trump.”

So Greenblatt and company are facing stiff odds, and it just might be that his speech at the United Nations was intended to soften up the opposition. Greenblatt reminded UN members that they have been pursuing the same formula — total condemnation for Israel, sainthood for the Palestinians — for decades and that it might be the right time to adopt a new approach.
The sad truth is that saying the same things, repeating the same tired talking points, but not identifying a realistic way forward, has not and will not lead to peace — ever.
We need to focus on a real solution that will bring peace and prosperity to the Palestinians and Israelis and unlock opportunity for the region as well. We need to focus on a vision that will allow a comprehensive and lasting peace.

‘Nakba Day’ Simply Infantilizes Arab Aggression

Imagine if Germans annually mourned the fact that Nazi Germany lost World War II, and called its failure to wipe out the Jews a “disaster.” This is exactly what Arab extremists and their global supporters do every year when they call the failure to wipe out the Jewish state in 1948 a nakba, or “disaster.”

The Arab nationalist historian George Antonius originally coined the term nakba in the 1920s. Ironically, its original meaning debunks the myth of a historical Palestinian nation: it referred to the separation of British Mandate Palestine from French-controlled Syria. Antonius called this a “disaster” because he defined himself and the local Arab population in British Mandate Palestine as Syrians and an inseparable part of greater Syria.

Losing wars has never been pleasant. This is particularly true when it’s the aggressors that lose. Germany and Japan paid a heavy price for their failed assault on humanity. Nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing countless Japanese civilians. Berlin and many other German cities were destroyed. Several million German soldiers and civilians were killed during World War II. Twelve million Germans became refugees and fled or were expelled from much of Central and Eastern Europe.

By contrast, the nakba myth does exactly the opposite. Seven decades after pan-Arab aggression failed to wipe out reborn Israel, the global nakba cult is the only case in human history in which failed genocidal aggression has been equated with victimhood. While losing their war of aggression against Israel in 1948 was painful for the Arabs, that pain pales in comparison to the price Germany paid for losing World War II. Some 10,000 Arabs were killed during Israel’s War of Independence, the majority of whom were combatants, killed while seeking to kill Jews.

Around 500,000 to 600,000 Arabs became refugees after the war. Arab leaders encouraged local Arabs to leave and those Arabs who refused were called “traitors.”

Ben-Dror Yemini: The man responsible for the Nakba

March 1949, the War of Independence was not yet over but the Palestinian refugee problem had already become an issue. On the 10th of March, Israeli forces reached Um Rush Rush, currently Eilat, and completed the conquest of the Negev Desert. Many war refugees streamed into the Gaza Strip as well as to Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt.

The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, was living under tight security in Alexandria at the time, following his escape from Europe where he was to stand trial at Nuremberg as a war criminal.

More than any other Arab, the Mufti is the man who represents contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism and the Arab refusal to come to terms with Israel’s presence in the region.

It was the Mufti who fabricated the myth of “al-Aqsa is in danger,” according to which the Jews are plotting to destroy the mosque at the Temple Mount complex and rebuild the Third Temple on its ruins. He was the main instigator to the anti-Jewish riots of 1920 and 1929.

Husseini led the Arab revolt against the British and the Jews in the 1930’s in which 300 Jews and 262 British personnel were killed. The British reacted harshly to the uprising and the local Arabs paid a heavy price — 5,000 dead. But 3,500 of them were victims of a murderous campaign by the Mufti against his opponents.

The Nakba did not begin in 1948. It began with the exodus of the elite, fleeing the Mufti’s terror. And who supported the Mufti? Nazi Germany.

David Singer: Trump Set to Reject UN and PLO on Jews’ Legal Rights in West Bank

the PLO’s claim since its formation in 1964 that the Mandate for Palestine was “null and void” ignored the fact that all 51 member states of the League of Nations had unanimously conferred those rights on the Jewish people in recognition of the “ the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”

Trump’s decision would not go as far as the promise made by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu In the run up to last month’s Israeli election:

“I am going to apply Israeli sovereignty, but I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. From my perspective, each of those settlement points is Israeli. We have responsibility [for them] as the government of Israel. I don’t uproot any, and I won’t transfer them to the sovereignty of the Palestinians. I take care of them all.”

Trump’s decision would not resolve the issue of Jewish and Arab sovereignty in specifically designated areas of Judea and Samaria (‘West Bank’) which would still remain to be resolved in direct negotiations.

However Trump would be clearly signaling that the PLO claim to establish a second UN-backed Palestinian Arab State in every square meter of Judea and Samaria (‘West Bank’) – in addition to Jordan – is dead in the water.

70th Anniversary of Israel’s Admission to the UN: The Historic Abba Eban Speech

In his speech, Eban made a fierce defense of Israel’s right to be accepted as an equal among the nations, and denounced the undue politicization of the application.

“Rarely in history had a people so small in all the attributes of physical power surmounted so many ordeals and adversities in its path to independence. It had emerged out of mortal danger into the clear prospect of survival,” he observed.

“The imagination and sentiment of the world had been profoundly impressed by the spectacle of Israel’s swift consolidation. Israel had now secured recognition by an overwhelming majority of other States, in all the five Continents, in the Old World and the New,” said Eban, and stressed the democratic nature of the nascent country: “It had conducted the only democratic election with full popular participation which this part of the Near East had seen for several years. It had established a legislature based on popular suffrage. It had formed a government dedicated to the principles of parliamentary democracy and social reform.”

He also noted the election as head of state of David Ben-Gurion, “the most respected and venerated citizen to symbolize both Israel’s concern for international prestige and its vision of scientific humanism.”

Eban highlighted the disproportionate attention that Israel’s case had raised. “No less than eighty-nine meetings of the Security Council had been devoted to the Palestine question; and at the end of this unprecedentedly minute investigation, the Security Council decided that, ‘in its judgment Israel is a peace-loving State able and willing to fulfill its obligations under the Charter.’”

It May Be Up to Israel to Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran unquestionably presents a grave threat to Israel because of the combination of dangerous rhetoric – such as Ayatollah Khamenei’s call for Israel to be “eradicated” – with the possibility that it will possibly one day have nuclear weapons and the means to act on what it openly says it wants to do.

When the Iranian government signaled last week that it will halt compliance with some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, it ratcheted up its threat to Israel’s existence. It appears increasingly probable that Iran will speed up its race to build a nuclear weapon, forcing Israel to return to the same strategy and tactics it used to eliminate Syrian nuclear power in 2007.

Israel’s defense establishment has long believed that to avoid the necessity of striking Iran’s reactors, and for diplomacy to have a chance to work, a genuine military deterrent must first be on the table to make the Iranian regime reconsider its nuclear ambitions.

Dan Meridor, Israel’s former minister of intelligence, told me that for Israel to consider preemptive action against another country’s nuclear program, two criteria must be met: the country must be one of Israel’s enemies and must have demonstrated the potential to one day consider using a nuclear weapon against Israel. Syria and Iraq both fit those criteria. So does Iran.

Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility in Natanz was built deep underground. Despite this, Israeli military planners have been confident for some time that its air force can cause enough damage to Iran’s nuclear facilities to stall its nuclear program by a few years.

Iran’s New Response to U.S. Pressure, and Its Consequences for Israel

Last year, when Washington withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Tehran—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the Islamic Republic’s initial response was one of patience. While continuing its military adventurism in Iraq, Iran, and Yemen, it did not overtly violate the deal or announce its own withdrawal. But recent Iranian threats to resume uranium enrichment, its apparent attacks on Saudi oil production, and the escalation in the Persian Gulf suggest a change in approach. Amos Yadlin explains:

Over the last month, Iran has experienced intensification of the U.S. policy of “maximum pressure.” . . . The regime in Iran has thus concluded that it must devise a new strategy . . . that is more proactive, albeit measured and cautious. Iran now seeks to exact a price for U.S. measures against it, and has thus embarked on a response made up of action in three realms.

In the nuclear realm, Iran is trying to compel European nations to formulate and implement a promised mechanism that will provide compensation for the sanctions. In the military realm, Iran seeks to exact a price from the United States (and Israel) with the goal of creating deterrence and preserving national pride. Finally, when it comes to energy supply, Iran has threatened Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that if it is unable to export oil, they too will be unable to do so. . . .

[I]n the military realm, Iran has a range of possible actions at its disposal: attacking American soldiers in Syria or Iraq, launching low-signature attacks via proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip against American interests or allies, including Israel. . . .

Any military clash between Iran and the United States—be it in the Gulf, Iraq, or Syria, or a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz—would not have a direct impact on Israel, but there would be indirect repercussions. The odds of Iran leaving Israel out of such a fight, should it emerge, are slim. [Moreover,] Israel must prepare for the possibility that Iran will choose [to renew nuclear activity. . . . Israel should also consider the possibility that the United States will not take effective action to stop the Iranian nuclear program (after all, the Trump administration is not keen on further military engagements in the Middle East). Therefore, Israel must update its force-buildup plans to enable it to cope with a potential Iranian nuclear breakout alone.

Romania ‘remains committed to relocating embassy to Jerusalem’

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă called Israel’s Ambassador to Bucharest David Saranga to reiterate her commitment to relocating her country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“My word is my word. I stand behind what I said in the past. There is no change in policy,” she said.

The move by Dăncilă followed a statement to the media by Palestinian envoy to Romania Fuad Kokaly that alluded to Bucharest having reneged on its plans to move the embassy. Speaking to members of the media following a meeting earlier this week with the president of Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea, Kokaly said the senior Romanian official had pledged not to change the current status and not to relocate the Romanian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Senior government figures in Romania rushed to deny the Palestinian envoy’s claim, with Dăncilă calling Kokaly’s remarks “fake news.”

She said Kokaly’s remarks “do not in any way reflect what was said in the meeting. I asked the envoy to take back [his remarks] because they are not connected to reality.”

Hebron Banners Call Out ‘Breaking the Silence’ Lies
Palestinian Nakba Day and Finding a Solution to the Conflict

Seven decades of conflict have dragged on between Israelis and Palestinians over a small strip of land in the Middle East. And now, the solution seems farther away than ever. Former Palestinian minister Ashraf Al-Ajrami discusses with host Tracy Alexander.

Rocks, explosive devices hurled at troops as Palestinians mark ‘Nakba Day’

Groups approached the border fence, planting Palestinian flags and throwing stones at Israeli soldiers despite the efforts of marshalls to keep protesters away from the barrier, witnesses said.

Palestinian media said that one Palestinian provocateur was dead, while the Gaza Health Ministry said at least 47 people were wounded, though it was not clear how many of those were hit by live ammunition or were hurt by rubber bullets or by inhaling tear gas.

The Israel Defense Forces said about 10,000 rioters and demonstrators gathered in several places along the security fence.

“The rioters are setting tires on fire and hurling rocks,” the IDF said in a statement. “A number of explosive devices have been hurled within the Gaza Strip, as well and a number of attempts have been made to approach the security fence. IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means.”

At least 3 brush fires reported in area close to Gaza Strip

At least three brush fires started Thursday in the area around the Gaza Strip, apparently sparked by incendiary balloons that were floated across the border, local officials said.

Firefighters worked to control the blazes, which broke out in the Shokeda and Be’eri forests close to the border with the Palestinian enclave.

There were no injuries or damage to property reported in the fires.

Over the past year Palestinians have launched waves of balloons carrying incendiaries, which have burned thousands of acres of Israeli farmland and countryside in the area around the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday Palestinians marked Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians from their homes following the creation of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948.

MEMRI: Hamas Columnist And Former Haniya Advisor Slams Assad Regime For Failing To Respond To Israeli Attacks On Syria

On April 13, 2019, Syria’s official news agency reported that Israeli planes had targeted a “military outpost” in the city of Masyaf in the Hama Governorate.[1] Syrian opposition websites reported that the targets were a site for developing Iranian medium-range missiles and headquarters of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and of Iran-backed militias.[2] Responding to this incident and to earlier Israeli strikes in Syria, Yousuf Rizka, a columnist for the Hamas-affiliated daily Filastin and former advisor to Hamas leader Isma’il Haniya, wrote an article titled “Cowards Do Not Make History,” in which he castigated the Syrian regime and Iran for failing to retaliate against Israel for its strikes. He accused them, as well as Hizbullah, of leaving Syria unprotected and allowing Israel to do as it pleases in its territory and airspace.

It should be noted that this is not the first time Rizka has the Assad regime and its failure to confront Israel.[3]

The following are excerpts from Rizka’s recent article:[4]

“Several days ago, the Zionist navy targeted the Syrian [city of] Masyaf… The missiles struck military bases in Masyaf where Iranian Zilzal missiles are kept and upgraded… According to experts, this is the first time Israel has attacked Syrian bases from the sea. This may be due to [Israel’s] concern that its planes might encounter Russian planes [above Syria]. It is also possible that Israel wants to humiliate the Syrians and the Iranians together, with Russian acquiescence. The missile attack went unanswered, and the results were as Israel intended them to be. The Syrians and Iranians gritted their teeth and refrained from reacting, as though the incident was inevitable or there was no possibility of responding. The [Syrians and Iranians] did not even [bother to] threaten in the media that retaliation would come at a time and place of their choosing.

“Why does Syria – which has been so cruel to the Syrian people in the recent years – remain silent? [Because] Israel is scary and frightening to deal with. Iran does not want a war with Israel on Syrian soil. [Furthermore,] Iran and Syria had no way of knowing how Russia would respond if they reacted to the deliberate Israeli attack, so they found no solution but to remain silent, swallow their pride and downplay the significance of the attack. Israel thus emerged victorious, saying to the two sides [the Syrians and Iranians]: If you repeat [your bad behavior], we will [strike] again, and nothing in Syria is safely outside the range of our planes and our navy. The Syrian Golan has become the Israeli Golan, or perhaps we should say ‘the American-Israeli Golan’ [a reference to U.S. President Trump’s March 25, 2019 recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan] – yet there has been no Syrian reaction to this momentous change. The Syrian [city of] Masyaf [was attacked]… yet Syria did not respond. What more can happen tomorrow?!

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: No Freedom of Expression Under New Government

A “fact sheet” published last month by the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights revealed that “arbitrary detention of Palestinians by the local [Hamas] authorities is among the most common violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip.” The center said that the “practice is perpetuated by the intra-Palestinian political split [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip], whereby persons with an opposing political opinion and/or affiliation to that of the local authorities are arrested or harassed, including in public and while participating in peaceful assemblies. This practice is meant to control and intimidate any opposition to the local authorities.”

The center also noted that violations of the right to free opinion and expression have intensified throughout the period of the division between Hamas and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.

“Attacks on these rights have resulted in the spread of fear, and a context in which Palestinians’ opinions and freedom to define their political affiliation are suppressed,” the center said. “Journalists’ work to expose violations is also significantly restricted, as individuals attempt to avoid harassment and punishment for their work. Practitioners of printed, audio, and video media, as well as artists, have been subjected to the violation of their rights, including journalists being denied permission to cover events.”

As far as many Palestinians are concerned, there is no difference between Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Hamas when it comes to their people being able to tell the truth as they see it. The two rival parties may disagree on many matters, but they share considerable common ground in their efforts to silence their critics and prevent the emergence of new voices seeking a better life for the Palestinians. While this muzzling of Palestinian mouths is perfectly visible to the naked eye, the jaundiced eye of the international community and media sees flaws only in Israel.

PMW: The PA’s ‘Animal Farm’ and Israel’s Generosity

Israeli Generosity:
This Palestinian favoritism has been met with generosity on the Israeli side, which has willingly accepted to treat Rajoub despite the fact that he has openly called to murder Israelis and has made it his key issue to advocate against “normalization” with Israel in sports:

Rajoub called to murder Israelis:
Rajoub was the most vocal of the Palestinian leaders in his support for terror and explicitly called to murder Israelis during the Palestinian terror wave in 2015-2016, the so-called “Knife Intifada,” which saw months of murderous Palestinian attacks, including stabbings, shootings, and car rammings.

In repeated public statements on PA TV, Rajoub informed Palestinians that murderers of Israelis should be seen as Palestinian “heroes,” and “crowns on the head of every Palestinian.” Rajoub stated that Fatah “blessed and encouraged” the murderers – and that he objected to suicide bombings on buses in Tel Aviv only because the international community would be angry at those kind of killings: “We want to fight in such a way that the world and the international community will remain by our side,” was how Rajoub defined the Palestinian terror strategy. He explained that Palestinians should focus on killing soldiers or “settlers” because the international community doesn’t care about them. (Based on this incitement, Palestinian Media Watch gave in a complaint to the Israeli police to investigate Rajoub on charges of incitement to murder.)

But now that Rajoub is sick, he seems happy to be treated by the same Israelis he encouraged Palestinians to murder.

Khaled Abu Toameh: On Nakba Day, Hamas and Islamic Jihad vow to ‘liberate Palestine’

Marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba (“Catastrophe”) Day, Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Wednesday vowed to foil US President Donald Trump’s upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “deal of the century,” pledging never to give up the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel.

Defiant Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders said that the Palestinian struggle against Israel will continue until the “liberation of all Palestine.”

Senior Hamas official Fathi Hammad said in a speech during a rally attended by thousands of Palestinians near the border with Israel, that he was confident that the Palestinians were headed toward “victory and uprooting the Zionist enemy from our land.”

Addressing Israeli leaders, Hammad said: “Go away, the day of your slaughter and elimination is nearing. You have no place in Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa.”

Hammad said that the Palestinian protesters came to the border to voice their rejection of Trump’s peace plan and support for the Palestinian “resistance” groups.

Hamas: No missiles in Gaza directed at Gulf states

Hamas denied the presence of missiles in the Gaza Strip that are directed towards Persian Gulf states, after Iraqi politician Ayad Allawi said in an interview with Iraq’s Al-Sharqiya television network that Israel has discovered and photographed ballistic missile pads in the Gaza Strip.

“According to the information I have, the Israeli intelligence has discovered and taken photos of the missile pads after the Israelis attacked Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” he said. “They handed the photos of the ballistic and other missiles to the Americans.”

Allawi said that according to information he has received, there are also missile pads in the Iraqi city of Basra.

“The missile pads in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Iran are directed towards the Gulf states,” he said. “The Americans have seen the photos. I heard this from an important American official with whom I recently met. He told me this in the presence of two other Iraqis.”

Allawi said that the Americans decided to come to Baghdad to investigate the matter and confer with Iraqi officials. “They came here and discovered that the matter was becoming more serious,” he added.

Potential weapons found in 172 parcels en route to Gaza

A shipment of 172 parcels bound for the Gaza Strip that contained equipment that could potentially be used in terrorist activity has been intercepted at the Erez crossing.

On Wednesday, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories and the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) for Gaza coordinated the delivery of 250 bags of mail from Israel to Gaza. The shipment included 172 parcels that contained items that are deemed “dual use,” meaning they could be used for nefarious purposes as well as innocent activity. An officer with the unit from the CLA for Gaza who was stationed at the crossing confiscated the items, all of which had been ordered online.

The items identified in the parcels included digital microscopes, gun sights and other accessories for weapons, drones, electronic components, field telephones, cameras, diving flashlights and army shoes.

Head of Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, Col. Iyad Sarhan, said, “We take any attempt to exploit civil coordination on mail delivery to ship dual-use items that could hurt the security of Israel and its citizens.

Ted Cruz slams ‘Orwellian’ Trump administration official for stonewalling about allowing Iranian nuclear research

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Wednesday took a Trump State Department official to the woodshed, slamming her “Orwellian” response as she stonewalled rather than explain why the administration was allowing Iran to continue its nuclear research activities.

As I’ve previously noted, while President Trump has taken many important steps to unwind the Iran deal after publicly pulling out of it, much work remains. One of the most glaring problems that has persisted has been the odd insistence of the administration to continue to allow nuclear research in the bunkered Fordow facility.

“How is it possibly in our best interest to allow Iran to continue doing nuclear research in the Fordow bunker that was built in the side of the mountain to be able to develop nuclear weapons to use to murder Americans?” Cruz asked in a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “How is that in our best interest?”

After witness Andrea L. Thompson, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security, said she would answer privately, Cruz followed up by saying the public, and his constituents, deserved an answer.

“Absolutely senator, so I will give the answer to the American people, to all those in Texas, and to friends and family back in South Dakota,” Thompson said. “This president, this secretary, myself, and everyone in this administration will stand for what’s right for the safety and security of the American people, bar none.”

The Iranian Government’s 40 Years of Hatred Towards America

It was Iran, not the US, that breached international law by carrying out the US Embassy takeover in Tehran…. It was also Iran, not the US, that immediately began using its proxies, such as Hezbollah, to commit terrorism and incite antagonism towards America.

Should the mullahs be appeased for killing thousands of Americans? For continually taking Americans as hostages? For being the leading executioner of children in the world? For ranking the first in the world per capita when it comes to executing people? For being the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism? For making every possible effort to damage US national security and scuttle US foreign policy objectives?

The Iranian government’s hatred towards the US often seems the most important reason for its existence. As long as the ruling mullahs remain in power, the Islamic Republic will continue its acts of terror and deep antagonism against Americans, their Sunni neighbors, the lands they try to control — such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, parts of Gaza and Venezuela, Lebanon — and the West.

A New Strategy to Counter Iran’s Growing Power

On the international level, the U.S. should put together a coalition to counter Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq just as one was put together to counter ISIS in June 2014. The Warsaw summit in February brought together more than 60 countries with the purpose of countering Iranian aggression and was a good first step. More still needs to be done, though, especially as regional actors like Qatar and Turkey that previously opposed Iranian expansion in Syria have now moved closer to Tehran, and others such as Jordan and the UAE that have previously opposed the Assad regime are now attempting to shore it up economically and indirectly support the Iranians in the process.

America’s anti-ISIS strategy was crafted to defeat ISIS at the lowest cost possible. But what’s low-cost in the short term is not always low-cost or even viable in the long term. It is now only the threat of Iran’s proxies in and of itself, such as were seen in the past week, which are now a problem that have to be dealt with. By turning a blind eye to Iranian expansion, our anti-ISIS policy has heightened sectarian polarization, planted the seeds for future conflict, and increased the likelihood that threats to the U.S. such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or other radical Islamist groups will reemerge.

We know from the rise of ISIS that Iranian domination in Iraq and Syria created the hyper-sectarian atmosphere necessary for such a group to appear. Today, conditions that prevailed on the eve of ISIS’s rise are as bad as or worse than they were then, and ISIS is already making a comeback in parts of Iraq. President Trump understands that reducing Iran’s regional influence should be a key plank of U.S. Middle East policy. Trump now has an opportunity to re-calibrate U.S. policy, ensure the true defeat of ISIS, and lay the groundwork for the lasting regional stability that has eluded his predecessors.

U.S. State Department: Iran’s IRGC has set up a training base in Lebanon

The US State Department has released a video alleging that Iran has established a military training base in Lebanon in close proximity to Rayak Air Force base near the border with Syria.
The video, released in an Arabic language tweet on Tuesday, said that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force training facility near Beit Moubarak, on Lebanon’s eastern border opposite Syria’s Zabadani, is a training facility for armored personnel carriers (APCs).

“We see a small valley that goes down. This has a series of berms that are alternating, on the left and right. This is a training course for armored personnel carriers,” Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Senior Fellow for Imagery Analysis at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) said in the video.

According to Seth G. Jones, senior adviser at CSIS, Iran’s goal with a base like this is to improve the capabilities of its local allies such as Hezbollah, and has similar training facilities in Iran, “where it can bring individuals from all of these locations.”

Qatar-Run Al Jazeera Posts Video Attacking Alabama Law. The Middle Eastern Country Jails Women For Abortion

Middle Eastern news outlet Al Jazeera posted a Facebook video portraying Alabama abortion legislation as dangerous, but Al Jazeera’s home country of Qatar imprisons women for unauthorized abortions.

The Facebook video describes abortion legislation, H.B. 314, the state’s governor signed into law Wednesday. “People are going to die,” Helmi Henkin, an abortion rights activist, said in the video posted Wednesday.

Al Jazeera did not portray a person in favor of H.B. 314 in the video.

Al Jazeera is based out of Doha, Qatar, a country where abortions are not permitted in almost all cases. Qatari law mandates that women who procure abortions “without medical necessity” be sentenced up to three years of prison time, according to the Al Meezan Qatar Legal Portal. Men or doctors who procure abortions for Qatari women can be sentenced to 10 years of prison time.

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