Palestinian tour guides accused of anti-Israel ‘brainwashing’
Palestinian and Israeli Arab tour guides working in Israel are repeating incendiary falsehoods to foreign tourists they take to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem — including the refrain common among Palestinians that “Israel is doing the same thing to us as the Germans did to the Jews in the Holocaust.”
The Israeli Tourism Ministry grants Palestinian tour guides certificates in accordance with the 1994 Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords, which mandates that Israel allow Palestinian guides, certified by the Palestinian Authority, to guide tour groups in Israel.
However, several Israeli tour guides have revealed that Palestinian tour guides make anti-Israel assertions, not only at Yad Vashem and elsewhere in Israel, but also during other tours, such as those conducted by the Israeli Tourism Ministry to Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
“The problem is mainly with the Palestinian guides, but sometimes also with Israeli Arab guides,” says O., an Israeli tour guide. “The guide usually takes a group of tourists on one- to 10-day trips. … What he says, and how he says it, will shape their opinions of the place and the people.”
Tour guide Zvi Harpaz says he has heard the Palestinians slander Israel at Yad Vashem on numerous occasions.
“This is known in the tourism world, and this phenomenon has been around for many years. I myself heard a guide say that exact sentence to a group of American Catholic tourists, and I am not alone,” Harpaz says.
Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, both of whom are expected to seek the presidential nomination in 2020, have just seized opportunities to shore up their anti-Israel bona fides, according to Jonathan Tobin. Booker, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted against the Taylor Force Act—which would condition U.S. aid for the Palestinian Authority on its cessation of payments to terrorists and their families—while Gillibrand made clear her opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Tobin writes:
Both [senators] were once rock-solid supporters of Israel. But both have other priorities these days—they are thinking about running for president in 2020. Their problem is that no one who plans to compete in future Democratic primaries can ignore the growing power of their party’s left wing, which has grown increasingly hostile to Israel. The influence of the far left is the only thing that might explain why Booker and Gillibrand are presenting themselves to their party’s base as less than fully supportive of Israel. . . .
Booker—considered very close to the Jewish community [while serving as mayor of Newark], before he was elevated to the Senate—was one of four committee Democrats (out of ten) to oppose the Taylor Force Act. His explanation was that he wanted the aid money to be held in escrow for more than a year. A more likely reason is that he is signaling to the left that he wants to be considered sympathetic to the Palestinians. Gillibrand’s abandonment of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act was just as telling. . . .
Somewhere I read their explanations and their excuses, but so much of it was gobbledygook that it made no sense to me.
Nor would it make sense to anyone who has an understanding heart. There is nothing vague or subtle about Abbas’ program.
His program calls for the murder of every Israeli and every Jew, else why the reward?
Taylor Force, a US Army Veteran, was not Jewish (so far as I know) but on a visit to Israel last year he was murdered by an Arab whose family now live wealthy from the PA pension. That’s what sparked the legislation. The only question is – what took so long?
Next question – who could vote against a bill that asks nothing more than humanity and decency?
Perhaps Murphy, Udall and Merkley would like another try explaining themselves, and as for Booker, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach feels “betrayed” by his “friend.”
The advice from Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of the Fathers”) is to “seek no intimacy with the ruling powers.”
They will use you but when it counts they will let you down – and they did it again last week, times four.
The Democratic Party remains “overwhelmingly” supportive of Israel, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said on Tuesday, amid signs that the party that has traditionally been pro-Israel is shifting because of pressure from the Bernie Sanders, progressive wing of the party.
Hoyer, among 52 US congressmen from both parties in Israel on a trip sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, an independent foundation affiliated with AIPAC, said that there was “no residual” impact on Democratic support for Netanyahu following his speech to Congress in 2015 that was opposed to and even boycotted by a number of Democrats.
Israel-US ties, Hoyer said, are not about one prime minister or another, or one president or another. “This is about a consensus that Israel’s security is critical to the security of the United States of America.”
Asked if certain recent votes in Congress on Israel-related issues did not show a slippage of Democratic support, Hoyer pointed instead to the passage last month of a bill strengthening sanctions against Iran.
“Iran sanctions were expanded significantly by the Congress of the United States, and there were only three votes against it – none of them were Democrats,” said Hoyer, who was speaking at the press conference alongside the House majority leader, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy from California.
Palestinian leaders claim that the Palestinians are descended from the Canaanite people who lived in the Land of Canaan before the Israelite tribes settled in it.
What is the source of the name “Palestine?” It is not Arab; it is derived from the name “Palestina,” by which the Roman Emperor Hadrian chose to call the land after the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. His aim was to erase “Judea.”
According to Palestinian historian Muhammad Y. Muslih, during the entire 400 year period of Ottoman rule (1517-1918), before the British set up the 30-year-long Palestine Mandate, “There was no political unit known as Palestine.” In Arabic, the area was known as al-Ard al-Muqadassa (the holy land), or Surya al-Janubiyya (southern Syria), but not Palestine.
Not a single Palestinian tribe identifies its roots in Canaan; instead, they all see themselves as proud Arabs descended from the most notable Arab tribes of the Hejaz, today’s Iraq, or Yemen. Even the Kanaan family of Nablus locates its origins in Syria. Some Palestinian clans are Kurdish or Egyptian in origin, and in Mount Hebron, there are traditions of Jewish origins.
This study does not deny the right of the Palestinian clans as a whole to define themselves as a Palestinian people. It would be better, however, if the Palestinian leadership were to choose a positive and constructive narrative and not a baseless one that is intended to negate that of the Jews of Israel.
As recently as the mid-20th century, when Arabs last controlled parts of Jerusalem, they exhibited no respect for the Holy City.
In 1948, when Jordan took control of the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City, it divided the city for the first time in its 3,000-year history. Under the 1949 armistice agreement with Israel, Jordan pledged to allow free access to all holy places but failed to honor that commitment.
From 1948 until the Six-Day War in 1967, the part of Jerusalem controlled by the Jordanians again became an isolated and underdeveloped provincial town, and its religious sites the target of religious intolerance.
The Old City was rendered void of Jews. Jewish sites such as the Mount of Olives were desecrated. Jordan destroyed more than 50 synagogues, and erased evidence of a Jewish presence. In addition, all Jews were forced out of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City adjacent to the Western Wall, an area where Jews had lived for generations.
For 19 years, Jews and Christians residing in Israel (and even Israeli Muslims) were barred from their holy places, despite Jordan’s pledge to allow free access. Jews, for example, were unable to pray at the Western Wall;
Christian Arabs living in Israel were denied access to churches and other religious sites in the Old City and nearby Bethlehem, also under Jordanian control.
As part of a work study tour, I spent a day in and around Ramallah. We visited a refugee camp, met with a high ranking Palestinian Authority minister, spoke to university students, and walked around downtown. Israelis are forbidden from travelling to Ramallah, and few tourists venture into the de facto Palestinian capital. The article and photos that follow share some of our experiences.
It’s only 22 kilometers between Jerusalem and Ramallah, but the two cities are worlds apart. We depart our Jerusalem hotel early in the morning and drive north. Thirty minutes later, we pass large red signs in Hebrew, Arabic, and English stating, “The entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden. Dangerous to your lives and is against the Israeli law.”Sign
A short while later we arrive at our first destination, the al-Am’ari refugee camp. Our group, a study tour of American academics, descends from the bus into the June heat. Just east of Ramallah, Am’ari is one of 19 refugee camps in the West Bank and is located in Area ‘A,’ under the control of the Palestinian Authority. In reality, the Palestinian government refuses to take responsibility or provide basic services for the camp’s 7,000 residents. As a result, it has become a hotbed of resentment toward Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
We enter the camp under a large archway with a key emblazoned on the sign, a symbol of the Palestinian desire to return to homes they left or were driven from in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The streets are teeming with garbage. Our guide explains that, until a few years ago, sewage ran through the streets. The Palestinian Authority refused to build sewage pipes, so the local counsel raised the money to install the pipes that we see running along the outside of the buildings. Some are noticeably cracked, and we are told that from time to time the pipes explode showering the narrow alleyways with raw sewage.
Our group steps gingerly around the piles of spoiled food and waste as we navigate twisting allies covered in graffiti and walls painted with giant keys. Above us are tattered strings of political pennants hanging between the cinder block buildings. The shutters of shops are papered in posters of “martyrs” killed while perpetrating terror attacks against Israelis.
JPost Editorial: What are Trump’s next steps to help forge peace?
There were three big takeaways from Kushner’s remarks.
The first was that, seven months after taking office, the Trump administration does not yet have any new ideas for how to advance the peace process. Its thinking seems to be no different than that of previous administrations: Push for negotiations between the parties, mediate between them and try to hammer out an agreement.
The second takeaway is that there seems to be a growing assessment within the White House that a deal might not even be possible. The third is just as interesting and has to do with the motivation for why Kushner and Deputy Assistant to the President Jason Greenblatt are even working on a deal to begin with. The president, Kushner revealed, had asked them.
Kushner made his remarks before news broke in Israel that Ari Harow, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, had turned state’s witness and is going to provide the police with key evidence in two investigations being conducted of the prime minister.
This is relevant, since from now forward, any step Netanyahu takes will need to be looked at through the prism of the investigations of his conduct. If he breaks Left – like Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon respectively did as prime ministers under investigation – he will be perceived as doing so to save himself from indictment. If he turns further Right – as it seems he will – it will be seen as an attempt to shore up his support among right-wing voters ahead of elections.
What this means is that real progress will likely not be made in the near future. The criminal cloud over Netanyahu’s head will prevent him from taking any real steps toward peace, which Kushner anyhow doesn’t appear to have much faith in the chances of achieving.
Melanie Phillips: In the Beltway swamp
Join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network the continued churning of the fetid Beltway swamp, whether or not HR McMaster is a suitable National Security Adviser and why Jared Kushner’s head seems not to follow his heart over the Arab war against Israel.
Despite the Palestinian Authority’s formal insistence that security coordination with Israel remains frozen, PA forces earlier this week arrested two relatives of an assailant who attempted to stab IDF soldiers and was shot dead.
The uncle and cousin of Abdullah Takaatka were detained outside Bethlehem in the aftermath of his July 28 attack at the Gush Etzion Junction, Palestinian sources said.
PA security forces have also recently arrested several Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, according to reports on Palestinian social media.
This activity is taking place despite the formal position set out by PA officials that its security coordination with Israel remains on hold in the wake of the Temple Mount tensions last month. PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced a freeze in all contacts with Israel on July 21.
Abbas’s adviser Mahmoud al-Habash said in a Thursday morning interview with the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the PA had a number of conditions Israel needed to meet in order for the security coordination to resume.
Think about the two leaders sitting across the table from one another. Perhaps Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most infamous moment came on the eve of the 2015 elections. “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls,” he warned. This was an attempt to incite fear amongst Jewish Israelis — and was a bigoted remark directed at the state’s Arab citizens.
By comparison, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wrote a PhD dissertation ‘in Holocaust denial’ entitled “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.” The paper argued that the figure of six million Jews killed in the Holocaust was exaggerated, and that Zionists were complicit in the genocide.
Jerusalem has also figured into Abbas’ hatred. Abbas has agitated and employed antisemitism in promoting the canard that Israel is altering the status quo of the Temple Mount. In 2015, Abbas met with East Jerusalem activists and said, “They [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.” He then added, “Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah.” This is the moderate voice within Palestinian society — the compromising one that Israel is supposed to strike a deal with.
Such statements speak to the intolerance that many Palestinians feel towards Israeli and Jews. According to the Anti-Defamation League, residents of the West Bank and Gaza scored 93 out of 100 on their index of antisemitism. In that survey, Palestinians answered in comfortable majorities that Jews:
– are more loyal to Israel than the country they live in;
– hold too much power in the business world, financial markets, the American government and the global media;
– talk about the Holocaust too much;
– and are responsible for most of the world’s wars.
A 2015 study by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy found that 40% of West Bankers and nearly 50% of Gazans believe that the Palestinian national goal for the next five years should be the reclamation of historic Palestine “from the river to the sea.” Moreover, when asked whether Jews have some right to this land — alongside Palestinians — 80% of West Bankers and 87% of Gazans agreed that “this is Palestinian land and Jews have no right to it”.
The Arab League is working to undermine Israel’s bid to win a seat on the UN Security Council next year, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Sunday, citing an unnamed Israeli diplomatic official.
The official said Israel was “concerned” by the Arab League’s activities and would take steps to counter them.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East never to have held a Security Council seat. The 10 non-permanent spots — which are two-year terms — on the 15-member council (the five permanent members are the US, UK, France, Russia and China, all of which have veto power) are allocated in accordance with regional blocs.
Since 2000, Israel has been part of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).
The elections for the 2019-2020 term will be held in June 2018. To get a Security Council seat, Israel will have to receive the support of at least two-thirds of the 193 members of the General Assembly.
Israel’s competitors for the WEOG seats are Belgium and Germany.
The White House offered some support for a bill that would slash Palestinian Authority funding over terrorist salaries Monday, but said the administration would work with Congress to ensure the legislation does not interfere with attempts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
On Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Taylor Force Act after marking up the bill to guarantee funding for security cooperation with Israel and humanitarian aid would not be touched, attempting to calm worries that the effort could harm ties with Ramallah.
“President Trump has made it clear that he believes the Palestinian program that provides financial support to Palestinians convicted of acts of terror or their families incentivizes terrorism and must end,” a White House official told The Times of Israel on Monday, and that “American taxpayer dollars should not be used in a way that even indirectly supports terror.”
“As for this specific act, we will continue to work with Congress as it proceeds to ensure it both encourages the Palestinian Authority to end the payments and supports all of our efforts to advance peace,” the official added.
An article in the Financial Times yesterday, written by Katrina Manson and John Reed, explored the question of whether White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (Donald Trump’s son-in-law) can bring peace to the Middle East. The article (“Jared Kushner looks for a deal in the Middle East”) cited concerns expressed by many about Kushner’s lack of experience and questions regarding whether he’s suitable for such a demanding role.
However, there was one charge in particular leveled against Kushner, by anonymous “critics”, that caught our attention:
Which “critics”, we asked the FT journalist on Twitter earlier, suggested that Kushner’s Jewish faith renders him intrinsically biased and unable to serve as an honest broker between the Israelis and Palestinians?
Let’s remember that the Working Definition of Antisemitism defines as antisemitic what’s known as the “dual loyalty” charge – the toxic libel that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nation. Whatever one’s views on Kushner’s ability to carry out the difficult task assigned to him, the fact that he’s a “practicing Orthodox Jew” is completely irrelevant.
3. McMaster has made statements and conducted actions that reflect an anti-Israel slant. The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien reported the following regarding McMaster and Israel:
McMaster has referred to Israel as “illegitimate” and that it’s an “occupying power.”
McMaster pushed for Trump to attend the Western Wall without the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
McMaster quashed a joint project with Israel to disrupt the Iran-Hezbollah alliance.
McMaster favors the Iran deal.
McMaster won’t recognize the Western Wall as belonging to Israel.
When Israel started using metal detectors at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in response to the murder of two Israeli police officers by Palestinian terrorists, McMaster viewed it as “just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs.”
McMaster is no friend to Israel.
5. No, there is not a Russian propaganda effort to oust McMaster. McMaster’s defenders have claimed that there is a Russian campaign effort to get McMaster fired; therefore he must be remain in his role as national security advisor. However, Brad Patty at the Security Studies Group (SSG) argued that McMaster is in favor of policies that are beneficial to Russia, including his support of the Iran deal and continuing to stay the course in Afghanistan.
What the Russians are doing is a matter of reverse psychology: by pretending to support McMaster’s firing, McMaster will stay in place and maintain policies that the Kremlin supports, Patty argues:
Russia is only playing at being against McMaster, for that matter: the inside-the-Beltway impulse to stay the course in Obama-era policies sustains a number of Russia’s foreign policy goals. Listening to what Russia says through these propaganda outlets is just as dangerous for those who think of themselves as enemies of Russia as it is for those who think of themselves as friendly to Russia. The Russian professionals have successfully manipulated very many people by playing this particular game.
One thing is very clear about McMaster: as long as he’s Trump’s national security advisor, it will be very difficult for the president to implement his foreign policy agenda.
President Trump’s defense of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s tenure as national security adviser has yet to bridge deep divisions among Republicans over whether he should remain in his influential White House post.
Trump on Friday emailed the New York Times a statement saying the two are “working very well together” and trying to dispel accusations from Trump loyalists that he is anti-Israel.
“He is a good man and very pro-Israel,” Trump said. “I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.
Over the weekend, McMaster’s defenders and Trump loyalists continued squabbling.
McMaster’s supporters dismissed criticisms of the veteran general, pointing to recent successes in pushing out Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria and the need to recalibrate U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to prevent it from descending into chaos as Iraq did when President Obama abruptly pulled out U.S. troops.
James Carafano, a former Trump transition team official and vice president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Trump has just one chance to get the strategy in Afghanistan right in order to turn the tide in the battle there.
“If you get Afghanistan wrong it will send the wrong message to Pakistan, to India … to ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban,” Carafano said. “You can see this is tough for Trump—it’s tough because this president is a patriot and he wants what’s best for the country.”
Senegal and Guinea, two Muslim-majority West African nations, will be sending their first-ever full-time ambassadors to Israel this week.
Ambs. Talla Fall of Senegal and Amara Camara of Guinea are scheduled to present their credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday. The envoys will serve as non-resident ambassadors, with Fall operating out of Senegal’s embassy in Cairo and Camara operating from Paris.
In early June, Israel and Senegal announced the full restoration of diplomatic ties on the sidelines of the Economic Community of West African States conference in Liberia.
Diplomatic relations between the countries were frozen after Senegal cosponsored last December’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israel’s settlement policy and described eastern Jerusalem and its Jewish holy sites as “occupied Palestinian territory.” At the time, Israel recalled its ambassador to Senegal and suspended its aid programs with the African nation.
In August 2016, Dore Gold, then the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, visited Guinea in a bid to restore diplomatic ties. Guinea had broken off relations with Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israel scored another diplomatic breakthrough earlier this week with the island nation of Cape Verde, which announced it would no longer vote against Israel at the UN.
A senior columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah (not to be confused with Al Jazeera) praised Israel’s justice system in his column last month. Dr. Jasser Al-Harbash’s article, translated from Arabic by The Middle East Media Research Institute, stated that the justice system is the “secret of the Zionist entity’s advantage over his neighbors.”
According to Al-Harbash, Israeli citizens can be certain that they have justice because the most senior leaders of Israel have been imprisoned. Everyone is held accountable, even presidents and prime ministers.
“When a citizen sees one of the most senior figures [in his country] brought to jail, he can wave his finger at the world and say: ‘We have justice here!'”
Al-Harbash went on to write that this is a key difference between Israel, which he called “the oppressor” and the neighboring Arab nations, “the victims.”
“When I saw the former Jewish prime minister in his small cell (from which he was released after serving two-thirds of his sentence), I looked away, not because I pitied him, but because it reminded me of the difference between the justice in the society of the oppressor [Israel] and the injustice in the societies of the victims [the Arabs] that surround it.”
Officials from the foreign and economy ministries have raised concerns over the continued closure of the Israeli embassy in Cairo but were apparently brushed off by the Prime Minister’s Office, which is said to be satisfied with close security cooperation with Egypt.
The issue of the months-long shuttering of the embassy in Cairo was discussed at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting last month, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
Israel pulled out Ambassador David Govrin and all of the embassy staff at the end of last year amid security concerns.
Representatives from the National Security Council, as well as from the IDF’s planning division, and economy and foreign ministries officials attended the closed-door forum.
Sources familiar with the proceedings told Haaretz that Foreign Ministry representatives told lawmakers that without an embassy in place, contacts between the two countries were reduced to talks with the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv, making the upkeep of relations difficult. As a result, there has been a significant drop in relations, outside of security cooperation, impacting economic, civilian, and political ties.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today (Tuesday) visited Niv Nehemiah, who was seriously injured by stabbing in Yavneh. The Prime Minister met with the medical team in Kaplan Hospital that saved his life.
Niv’s mother and father, Hadassah and Mordechai Nehemiah, wanted to thank the Creator and the doctors for saving their son’s life.
Netanyahu said at the hospital: “Niv is a hero, he just rushed with bare hands at a hateful terrorist, stopped him and prevented a great disaster.”
Nehemiah, 43, from Kiryat Ekron, returned to full consciousness on Sunday. In the video of the attack, it appears that the terrorist emerged from behind the shelves of a Supersol supermarket and stabbed Niv with a knife. The terrorist passed Nehemiah first, then went back to Nehemiah with his back to him, and stabbed him.
Palestinians are vowing to continue their efforts to prevent Jews from living in large parts of Jerusalem’s Old City, despite a July 31 Israeli court ruling permitting a Jewish purchase of several properties there.
The ruling by Judge Gila Kanfi-Steinitz, deputy head of the Jerusalem District Court, capped a 13-year legal struggle over the purchase by Jewish investors of two Arab-run hotels and an unidentified third property — all owned by the Greek Orthodox Church, and located in the area of the Old City known as the Christian Quarter.
The transaction was initially arranged by Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli organization that facilitates the repopulation of parts of the Old City, where Jews were expelled by Arab attackers in the 1920s and 1930s. Judge Kanfi-Steinitz also ordered the church to pay Ateret Cohanim $8,420 for its legal expenses.
Ateret Cohanim Executive Director Daniel Luria told JNS.org that while he could not comment on the specific details of the hotel’s purchase, he detailed the dangerous circumstances surrounding the deal. The Palestinian Authority “has circulated fatwas (Muslim religious rulings) against selling property to Jews,” and Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled media “constantly incite against such sales,” Luria said.
The exact purchase price for the hotels has never been made public, but the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reported in 2005 that the buyers paid “several million dollars.”
Mohammed Dahlan, a Palestinian political activist since his teens, served as the Palestinian Authority’s head of the Preventive Security Force in Gaza. A Fatah leader, he brutally clamped down on Hamas in Gaza. After the 2006 elections, Hamas launched an armed offensive to push Fatah out of Gaza. As a Gazan, he had only limited opportunities to take a leadership position in the West Bank, where strong reservations are rampant about Palestinian elites from the Gaza Strip. Today, Dahlan, 55, lives in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
After recent Hamas-Egyptian talks, Dahlan is expected to return to Gaza to serve as a sort of foreign minister of Gaza, fundraiser for its economic development, and contact man with Israel on daily affairs.
Dahlan is the unofficial representative and protégé of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. He is their preferred candidate to be the next chairman of the PA. He also enjoys strong support from Fatah in Gaza.
It is expected that Dahlan will conclude a deal to substantially ease the blockade on the Strip, resolve its electricity shortage, and lead the Strip toward economic development with Gulf contributions.
From Dahlan’s standpoint, Gaza is only a springboard toward the main goal, which is to take over the PA headquarters, the Muqata in Ramallah.
Fatah, the faction headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, denied on Monday reports in Arab media that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had proposed a unity deal for Fatah and Hamas.
The reports said that Al-Sisi’s initiative includes six clauses, including the dismantling of the Hamas-run government committee for Gaza, the cancellation of the PA’s punitive measures against Gaza and Hamas, allowing the PA to exercise its authority in Gaza, and solving the issue of public service workers in Gaza who were fired in recent months.
The reports also claimed that Hamas accepted the deal but Abbas, while originally accepting it, later backed down.
Azzam Al-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, denied on Monday that the Egyptian President had ever even presented such a deal to Abbas.
According to Al-Ahmad, the report is based on “the imagination of the anonymous sources who gave the information to the newspaper’s correspondent in Gaza.”
By embedding itself throughout Afghanistan’s government and cultivating networks of assassins and spies, Iran is “working quietly and relentlessly to spread its influence … following the withdrawal of the United States,” The New York Times reported Saturday.
While Iran was once at odds with the Sunni terrorist group, it now sees the Taliban as a “loyal proxy” that can be exploited to “keep the country destabilized, without tipping it over.”
Iran’s growing ties with the Taliban emerged after a United States airstrike in Pakistan last year, which killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. Mansour died shortly after returning from a trip to Iran, where he met with top Iranian and Russian officials.
While Iran had originally fought the Taliban, it later supported it in order to raise the cost of American intervention in Afghanistan, with an eye towards getting the United States to retreat. Iran has increasingly come to view the Taliban as a “useful proxy force,” the Times reported.
While these ties were denied by Mohammad Reza Bahrami, Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan, the Times described Iran’s diplomatic priorities as complementing those of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—“the first openly sowing economic and cultural influence, and the second aggressively exerting subversive force behind the scenes.”
The Turkish intervention in Northern Syria has been at a standstill for months as the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army isn’t pressing against the Assad regime to the south and can’t push east to the Euphrates so long as the Kurds have U.S. protection. But now Turkey’s President Erdogan is making noise about renewed military action against the Syrian Kurds, as Reuters reports:
“We will not leave the separatist organization in peace in both Iraq and Syria,” Erdogan said in a speech on Saturday in the eastern town of Malatya, referring to the YPG in Syria and PKK bases in Iraq. “We know that if we do not drain the swamp, we cannot get rid of flies.” [….]
Recent clashes have centered around the Arab towns of Tal Rifaat and Minnigh, near Afrin, which are held by the Kurdish YPG and allied fighters.
Erdogan said Turkey’s military incursion last year dealt a blow to “terrorist projects” in the region and promised further action. “We will make new and important moves soon,” he said.
Turkey has been steadily building up its forces along the Syrian border at various points opposite YPG-held territory, but the choice of where the Turks might strike is a difficult one. So far, the U.S. has responded by making its presence sufficiently obvious that any Turkish incursion would meet U.S. resistance. Last month, U.S. special forces deployed to Tal Abyad, driving around the border town in trucks flying American flags and shortly thereafter appeared on social media:
We’ve written before about how the standoff between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds will remain a tinderbox going forward. The U.S. presence and commitment to Syria’s Kurds has escalated significantly under the Trump administration, even as the President has terminated support for anti-Assad rebels. So long as the U.S. maintains its presence in Syria, a crisis with Turkey can probably be averted. The question is how long the U.S. is willing to stay. (h/t MtTB)
In an effort to reinvigorate the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the group’s leaders — Magdy Shalash — reminded supporters that the organization’s main objective is establishing an “Islamic Caliphate” based on “Sharia” law.
“The Muslim Brotherhood was established for a general overall purpose, namely, the return of the comprehensive entity of the Umma (Muslim community)…the Islamic Caliphate, which is based on many Sharia proofs,” Shalash wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that was translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).
While many Islamist apologists attempt to defend the use of terms like “caliphate” or “jihad” as purely religious and peaceful concepts, Shalash does not try to hide the Brotherhood’s true colors.
He calls for “the return of all states Islam ruled, such as Andalusia and others, to the quarters of the coming Caliphate.” Andalusia is part of modern-day Spain.
Islamist sympathizers who view the Brotherhood as a moderate force that only seeks to increase Islam’s role in political life fail to acknowledge the organization’s core mandate: to establish Sharia law and firm rule over all territories that were ever controlled by Islamic governance, no matter how long ago.
Shalash praised the “Ottoman Caliphate” since it “eliminated a state of pluralism and fragmentation in name of a plurality of Islamic countries.”
Official Muslim Brotherhood statements in Arabic tend to reflect the group’s core motivations and goals more than sanitized statements in English.
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