April 7, 2020

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08/14 Links Pt1: Latma is Back: All About the Facts; Abbas and PLO condemn US Senators


From Ian:

Legal Grounds Resurrects Latma to Explain How the So-Called Palestinians Lie
I proudly introduce here a one-of-a- kind video produced by the Legal Grounds Campaign, co-chaired by Jeff Daube and myself: “All About the Facts.”
The Latma team has created a song for the video: A biting parody that is laugh-out-loud funny. In English with Hebrew subtitles.
While we expect this to appeal to young people who are ignorant about Israel’s realities or have been misled by false information, we believe you, too, will be delighted by it.
Additionally, we have designed a short website that viewers will be able to connect to after seeing the video; it provides basic facts about Israel’s rights in the land.

PMW: Mahmoud Abbas and PLO condemn US Senators

At a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee, led by PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO condemned the US Senators of the Committee on Foreign Relations for their vote in favor of the Taylor Force Act, which calls to cut all funding to the PA if it continues paying salaries to terrorists and allowances to families of so-called Martyrs.
The PA’s rewarding of terror has been a source of contention between the Palestinian Authority and its American and European funders since 2011, when Palestinian Media Watch first exposed the PA’s practice of rewarding terrorist prisoners. The U.S. Congress finally decided to act decisively after becoming aware that the family of the murderer of American veteran and university student Taylor Force, who was murdered last year in Tel Aviv, would be receiving a lifetime monthly stipend.
The Palestinian Authority sees all Israelis and all visitors to Israel as legitimate targets and therefore rewards the terrorists and families of those who are either imprisoned or killed. Accordingly, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is defying the international community including the donor countries by continuing to spend $355 million a year on these payments.
The PLO Executive Committee’s condemnation of the US Senators is another statement by Mahmoud Abbas that he has no intention of seeing the murder of Israeli civilians and visitors to Israel as terror and therefore will continue to reward the killers.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Israel-Jordan peace agreement: The emperor has no clothes

Jordan today, it must be concluded, is working non-stop behind the cover of its peace treaty with Israel to destroy the Jewish State and create a Palestinian one instead. What is worse is that Israel refuses to admit to the situation and continues most carefully to keep the agreement, hoping calm will prevail along the border until the next elections. Every politician knows that if, during his term, relations with Jordan deteriorate, the media – our shallow, slanted and agenda-ridden media – will accuse him of being the cause of the agreement’s nullification, making him pay the price in the next round of elections. That is why politicians bolster up the temporary tactical quiet, ignoring the strategic threat to the very existence of the state posed by the peace agreement.
If Israel’s leaders felt endangered by the actions of Abdullah, they would do something to prevent his destructive activities, cleverly disguised as military and economic cooperation. The problem is that in their view, short term tactical advantages are preferable to attending to strategic problems that affect the long term. We are all going to pay a high price for this way of running things on the part of Israel’s decision makers – as can be seen by the security equipment crisis last month in Jerusalem.
King Hussein was all for Israel’s continued existence and did not question Jerusalem ‘s status. That’s why peace with him was positive in general. His son Abdullah changed his father’s strategy and works tirelessly to create a Palestinian state on the ruins of the destroyed Jewish one. Now that King Abdullah’s nefarious scheme has been revealed, Israel must rethink its Jordanian route and work to create a Palestinian Arab state in all or part of Jordan, since the majority of the people there are Palestinian Arabs.
The alternative is establishing a Palestinian state on Israeli territory with its capital in Eastern Jerusalem, a strategic danger to Israel.
There is no reason that the Jewish people, who returned to its land after 2000 years of exile, should pay with its very existence for the survival of the Hashemites brought by the British from Hijaz to rule the most artificial country in the world – Jordan.

Ruthie Blum: What Netanyahu and Trump owe the Left

What the two have most in common, however, is something that neither realizes. Indeed, the “background noise” – as Netanyahu has characterized hysterical calls for his indictment and ousting – seems to be preventing both the Israeli prime minister and the US president from noticing that they have been, and continue to be, bolstered by the very forces working tirelessly to take them down.
Trump was elected because of the cultural Marxism that had enveloped the United States. It was a climate that enabled and fed on the two-term presidency of Barack Obama, a Saul Alinsky adherent. Nor was the media the sole culprit. The US was becoming an Orwellian universe in which all concepts of good and evil were turned on their head. Universities were no longer institutions of higher learning, but rather totalitarian training grounds for the policing of thought. Trump’s brash assertions about “making America great again” elicited elation that somebody was listening to a mass plea to “make America America again.” The point is that Trump owes his victory, and the obstinacy of his loyalists, to the Left’s penchant for going too far. The same applies to Netanyahu. Members of his base turned out in droves to cheer and champion him last week, precisely because they felt that he, and they, have been under unjust assault. It did not matter to them whether there is merit to the case against Netanyahu. Politics, after all, is 75% perception.
Which brings us to the final and most significant gift that the Left has bestowed on both Netanyahu and Trump: the notion that both heads of state are dangerous, trigger-happy alarmists, liable to set off a nuclear war with rhetoric, if not weapons. This is nonsense, of course, but the Shi’ite mullahs in Tehran and the crazy communist dictator in Pyongyang are not so confident.
What level-headed Israelis do know for certain, beyond the real and present danger of Iranian and North Korean nukes, is that Netanyahu was ridiculed and chastised by the Left for making a special trip to Washington in March 2015 to address Congress and warn against the nuclear deal with Iran. In the same vein, Americans this week witnessed Trump being raked over the coals for responding to North Korea’s test launch of two intercontinental ballistic missiles with a threat of “fire, fury and… power.”
Such ludicrous belittlement of leaders doing their duty discredits the detractors and instills fear among those enemies with the will and means to annihilate whole populations of innocent people. Rather than commiserating over their shared victimization at the hands of the “Left and the media,” Netanyahu and Trump should be grateful for the help.

China implements UN sanctions against North Korea

In an unprecedented move against North Korea, China on Monday issued an order to carry out the United Nations sanctions imposed on the rogue regime earlier this month.
China made the announcement amid not only Pyongyang’s escalating war of words with the United States regarding the North Korea nuclear missile program, but also as President Trump was reportedly set to order an investigation into China’s trade practice — a probe which could lead the U.S. to levy its own sanctions on Beijing.
Trump has sought China’s help in dealing with North Korea, as China has remained one of the last defenders of dictator Kim Jong Un and could apply enormous financial pressure should it turn on the North Korean leader.
But in recent months, Trump has grown increasingly wary of getting any substantial aid from China, leading to the trade probe, as Axios has reported. Trump, as a presidential candidate, heavily criticized China, only to initially soften his tone upon winning the White House.

IDF Moves from “Cutting the Grass” to “Weakening the Roots” in the Fight against Terror in the Territories

IDF Brig.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, who served for the past two years as commander of the Judea and Samaria Brigade, said, “We are changing our concept from ‘cutting the grass’ to ‘weakening the roots'” of terror in the West Bank.
“With a situation of ‘cutting the grass,’ you are always cutting it down, but it grows back. After you jail one attacker, you move on to the next attacker. We need to strengthen our deterrence and deal with the terror infrastructure so that it no longer exists. We want to reach a point where there are fewer terrorists, less incitement, fewer capabilities and infrastructure….We are working every day so that the grass doesn’t grow at all.”
“Weakening the roots” means arresting the inciters before they influence potential attackers and acting against the wider circles that support the attackers. This includes arresting the driver that drove the terrorist, withdrawing the permits that allow his family to work in Israel, confiscating funds used to support terror – all in order to deter additional terrorists.
“There have been a number of examples of parents who have turned in their children before they committed terror attacks – particularly to the Palestinian Authority security forces – out of fear that their homes would be destroyed.”
While the IDF seeks to avoid collective punishment, it has been focusing on weapons manufacturing. “Our challenge is to find the three factories that produce guns from among the seventy metal workshops in a city.”
Another target is the printing presses that publish posters calling for armed attacks on Israel or lauding “martyrs.” Carmeli explained that the IDF doesn’t just take down the posters, but arrests the printshop owners and confiscates their equipment, which leads other printshop owners to become hesitant to print such posters.

MEMRI: Arab Journalists Condemn Al-Aqsa Attack: The Palestinians Must Abandon The Path Of Violence

Following the July 14, 2017 shooting at the Al-Aqsa mosque, several articles in the Arabic media came out against the attack, calling on the Palestinians to abandon the path of violence and religious fanaticism and exchange it for investment in education, science and technology. This, “in order to produce an enlightened generation that is not in the grip of the religious insanity” that has so far led the Islamic umma to nothing but perdition. Iraqi journalist ‘Omar Al-Khatib called on Palestinians to cease the violence that has cost them numerous unnecessary casualties, unite around the PLO, and stick to peaceful measures, which will bring them what they have not been able to achieve with weapons. Saudi journalist Mujahid ‘Abd Al-Muta’ali contended that “solidarity with the refugee camps in the diaspora takes precedence to solidarity with Al-Aqsa,” since men are more important than stones, and, like Al-Khatib, suggested that investing in the education of the young generation will bring the Palestinians closer to their objective. Israeli Arab lawyer Jawad Boulos warned against the growing willingness of young Israeli Arabs to die and to kill in the name of religion and its holy symbols, first and foremost the Al-Aqsa mosque, and called on the leaders of the Israeli Arabs not to settle for blaming the occupation as the reason for attacks, but to fight the elements that influence the youth in this direction, among them “poisonous, fanatical sermons.”
The following are excerpts from the three articles:
Iraqi Journalist: When The Prophet Muhammad Was In A Situation Similar To That Of The Palestinians Today, He Called For Restraint
Writing on the liberal Arab website Elaph,[1] ‘Omar Al-Khatib, who was born in Baghdad and immigrated to Western Europe where he lectures about the Middle East, called on the Palestinians to behave with restraint, to abandon violence and religious fanaticism, and to invest in education to produce an enlightened generation that loves life. In this way, he argued, the countries of the world will be persuaded to support them in the pursuit of their goals.

Shmuley Boteach: Palestinians will not make Jerusalem ‘Judenrein’

One reason the Taylor Force Act is so vital is that it sends a message to Abbas that the United States, at least (sadly, the rest of the world has not seen the light), will no longer put up with his doublespeak. He may dress in a suit but his actions mirror those of his fatigue-wearing predecessor.
Equally important is moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. President Donald Trump must fulfill this campaign promise to send another message to the Palestinians, that Jerusalem will remain the indivisible capital of Israel.
For those unaware of history and misled by claims that east Jerusalem is “Arab” and therefore should belong to the Palestinians, I would point out that before 1865 the entire population of Jerusalem lived behind the Old City walls in east Jerusalem. When the UN voted to partition Palestine, a thriving Jewish community was living in this part of Jerusalem, which contains many important Jewish sites, including the City of David, the Temple Mount and of course the Western Wall. This is also the home of Hebrew University and the original Hadassah Hospital. The only time this area of Jerusalem was exclusively Arab was between 1949 and 1967 when the Jews were forcibly expelled under Jordan occupation, a time when the Western Wall was desecrated and Jews of course were barred from prayer.
I will always remain hopeful that a solution can be found that will allow Jews and Palestinians to live together peacefully. One-sided compromises, such as those made during the Oslo period, only embolden the Palestinians to believe they can “liberate” all of “Palestine,” which includes Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem – east and west.
I feel sorry for the many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who want nothing more than to live their lives in peace, and would gladly compromise to achieve independence. Alas, unlike Israel, the PA is not a democracy and the people remain hostages of their radical leaders. It is hard to envision peace so long as Palestinians are taught to hate in their schools, encouraged to become martyrs by their preachers and media, and rewarded for murder by their leaders. Regardless of these provocations, Jews will not be driven from their capital or their homeland. Jerusalem will never again be Judenrein.

David Singer: Trump, Israel, Jordan and PLO Need to Define Palestine’s Boundaries

If Trump concludes that a second Arab State – in addition to Jordan – is required in the Mandate territory – then Jordan – not only Israel, Judea and Samaria (West Bank), East Jerusalem and Gaza – should be included in determining that third State’s possible location.
However such a second Arab State – if governed by the PLO – the sole spokesman for the Palestinian Arabs since 1974 – would pose an existential threat to the continued existence of both Jordan and Israel as sovereign independent States – since Article 2 of the PLO Charter expressly states:
“Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.”
One Jewish State and two Arab States in the territory of the Mandate will exacerbate – not resolve – the conflict.
Jordan – 78 percent of the Mandate territory – must be part of any territorial resolution.
Territorial negotiations – like gridiron and basketball – can only be played out within clearly designated boundaries.
Defining Palestine’s boundaries is indeed the key to Trump succeeding where all others have failed.

Mahmoud Abbas’ last chance

The vast majority of Israeli citizens have already understood that the Palestinians are not interested in a solution involving two states for two peoples. They want one state for one people, and the Jews, as far as they are concerned, can go back to wherever they came from. But they are forgetting how hard it would be for Europe to absorb new refugees these days, after having taken in millions forced to flee blood-drenched religious wars. When facing a jungle society that places no value on human life, what is the point of aspiring for peace or for safeguarding life?
In recent years, much of the world, including some Arab countries, has started to become disillusioned. Radical Muslim terrorists are not at all interested in the Palestinians. Shiites massacring Sunnis, and the other way around, are not worried about the refugee camps in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. Thanks to the new administration in the U.S., it is now clear to anyone with a head on his or her shoulders that the real issues in the world are North Korea and Iran. There is no longer any urgency to confront with the Palestinian issue. Only a strong Israel can safeguard the vanguard outpost of Western civilization in our ill-fated region.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is nearing the end of his political career, is now faced with an opportunity that will not arise again. He has the opportunity to reverse the Palestinians’ stubborn refusal and become open, accepting that the Jews are not crusaders in their homeland. If he takes advantage of the opportunity, the pages of history in which he is portrayed as the successor to archterrorist Yasser Arafat may be rewritten. He could be remembered as the leader who rescued his people from the dark and dreary pit that is their current lives. If he does not seize the opportunity now, it will never return.

Palestinians call on Trump to back two-states, halt settlement building

The PLO Executive Committee called on US President Donald Trump’s administration to endorse the two-state solution and ask Israel to halt settlement building, days after the White House announced a team of envoys including senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming days.
The Executive Committee is the PLO’s top body led by PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which convenes intermittently to discuss the Palestinian issue.
“The Executive Committee urged the American administration to back the principle of two states along the 1967 borders and ask the occupation authority, Israel, to halt colonial settlement activities,” an Executive Committee statement published on Saturday night in PA state media said.
The Trump administration has refrained from taking clear-cut positions on both the two-state solution and settlements, bucking former President Barak Obama’s policies on the issues.
Trump told a White House press conference in February that he “is looking at two-state and one-state” and that he is “happy with the one that both parties like.”
Since February, neither Trump nor his White House staff have backed a two-state or one-state solution.

Tony Blair received millions from UAE while serving on Quartet

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair got millions from the United Arab Emirates while serving as the Quartet envoy for Middle East Peace, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Blair took up the post as Quartet envoy to the Middle East soon after resigning as United Kingdom Prime Minister in 2007, holding the job for 8 years until leaving in 2015. The Quartet is a group established in 2002 to mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace, and comprises the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia.
According to the report, Blair was getting paid million from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for consulting work while at the same time working as mediating between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The UAE also paid Blair for expenses that occurred as part of his role as envoy. As the UAE is hostile to Israel, the expose raises conflict of interest questions.
A spokesperson for Tony Blair confirmed the charges, telling the Sunday Telegraph that “The UAE contributed to the costs of Mr. Blair and his London-based staff for the work he and they did for the Quartet role.”

Former ADL Head Defends Sebastian Gorka on North Korea: ‘I Have No Problem with Gorka’s Reference to the Holocaust’

Abraham Foxman says he has “no problem with” White House aid Dr. Sebastian Gorka’s reference to a Holocaust survivor to illustrate the importance of heeding repeated threats uttered by America’s enemies.
“I have no problem with Gorka’s reference to the Holocaust. He is not comparing the North Korea situation to the Holocaust,” Foxman, who previously served as the national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told Jewish Insider. “He is quoting a Holocaust survivor—sharing a universal lesson of the Holocaust—when somebody threatens to kill you take him seriously. Too many people in Europe, including the Jews of Europe, did not take Hitler seriously. Gorka is saying, take a lesson from then and take North Korea seriously.”
Foxman currently serves as the Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
His remarks came in response to Gorka saying, “When a group of people repeatedly says they want to kill you, sooner or later you should take them seriously.” Dr. Gorka made the statement while recalling advice he’d received from a Holocaust survivor to explain to BBC Radio 4 why he believes North Korea leader Kim Jong-un’s repeated nuclear threats should be taken seriously.

Netanyahu to Congressmen: Kurds should have a state

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a delegation of 33 Republican congressmen last week that he is in favor of an independent Kurdish state in parts of Iraq, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
According to a source who took part in the discussion on Thursday, Netanyahu expressed his “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, saying the Kurds are a “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”
Netanyahu does not frequently address the Kurdish issue, which is a politically highly sensitive one because the traditional US position – at least until US President Donald Trump took office in January – was that Iraq should remain a united state and not be broken up into separate parts.
Furthermore, a Kurdish state is a red flag for Turkey, which is concerned that such a development would stir up independence yearnings among its own Kurdish population.
Netanyahu has not spoken publicly about the issue since 2014 when he said during a speech in Tel Aviv that Israel should “support the Kurdish aspiration for independence.”

‘It’s a shame Dad isn’t with us’

150 children arrived on Sunday at a vacationing area in the Ben Shemen Forest, for activities led by ZAKA’s jeep unit.
Among the participants were children from the Shabo family who survived the Itamar massacre, firebomb victim Ayala Shapira, and Michal Salomon, who came with her three older children Avinoam (10.5), Reut (9), and Amitai (5).
“This summer, because of the terror attack, we haven’t done any fun things,” Michal told Yediot Aharonot. “We are glad to have this activity, which allows us a break from routine. It’s a miracle we’re alive. We’re alive because my husband, of blessed memory, fought the terrorist with all his strength.”
“I so admire him for that.”
Michal’s husband, sister-in-law, and father-in-law were murdered while eating their Friday night dinner in a terror attack perpetrated by a 19-year-old Arab terrorist from a nearby village. Michal herself acted heroically during the attack, managing to save herself and her five children.

Family of missing soldier: Haaretz has no heart

Simcha and Leah Goldin, the parents of murdered and missing IDF soldier Hadar, on Monday morning clashed with Haaretz publisher Amos Shoken, after Shoken publicized a report of how much electricity Gaza receives.
“Haaretz continues with its anti-Israel slant: Every day, they publicize how many watts of electricity Gaza receives, completely ignoring the fact that Hamas still holds captive two of our sons, who are Israeli citizens,” the Goldins wrote.
IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, were killed in Gaza during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. Their bodies have been held by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza since then.
“We are ashamed of you and of Haaretz,” they wrote. You prefer to give a voice to needy citizens of Gaza, but you show no mercy to Israeli families whose loved ones are in Hamas’ hands.”
In response, Shoken said, “I feel your pain, but if today Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas cuts electricity to Gaza, does that make him your partner? Will four hours of electricity (instead of 2) make Hamas return Israelis? So there’s really no connection.”
“Abbas does what his committee decides to do and not to do – to pressure Hamas. You and Haaretz are clearing Hamas of all responsibility for the situation Hamas itself created. It’s shameful,” the Goldins said.

Family ambushed: ”Arabs blocked the road, tried to attack us’

A family from Jerusalem making its way to the Jordan Valley this morning (Monday) was halted by Arabs who had set up a roadblock, and who then tried to attack the family.
The family reported the incident to the police, who managed to arrest three suspects shortly afterwards.
The incident took place on the northbound Jordan Valley road. Uzi and his family, residents of Jerusalem, were headed for a family vacation in the north, when at one point a vehicle with a Palestinian Authority license plate overtook them.
The vehicle then blocked both lanes, prevent the family from continuing their journey.
The father, Uzi, did not lose his cool and managed to escape the trap. However, his vehicle was damaged and some of the occupants were lightly injured.

Hezbollah chief threatens Dimona reactor, says Israel fears a fight

The leader of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah hinted on Sunday that Israel should relocate its Dimona nuclear reactor because it too is a target for his organization, and one whose destruction could have more dire consequences than an attack on the huge ammonia tank in Haifa that he previously threatened to destroy.
Speaking from his hidden bunker to a Hezbollah event in the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon to mark 11 years since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah General-Secretary Hassan Nasrallah warned that, should Israel try to invade the country again, it would be met by a defending force that is 100 times more powerful than the force Israeli troops encountered in the previous conflict.
Nasrallah insisted that Israel was deterred from attacking Lebanon by the perception that it would pay too high a price for such an attack.
Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran’s Shiite regime, threatened earlier this year to target a massive 12,000-ton capacity ammonia tank in Haifa Bay with rockets, in any future conflict with Israel.

Hezbollah attack will bring ‘destruction throughout Lebanon’ – Bennett

Announcing a “new strategy,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday vowed to hold all of Lebanon responsible for any attack against Israel carried out by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group.
“Israel’s interest is to prevent another confrontation in Lebanon, and so our new strategy is simple: Lebanon equals Hezbollah, Hezbollah equals Lebanon,” Bennett, a member of Israel’s security cabinet, said in a statement.
“Unlike the Second Lebanon War, this time we won’t differentiate between the organization and the State of Lebanon. This means any attack by Hezbollah will cause destruction throughout Lebanon and its institutions.”
Marking the 11th anniversary of the 2006 war, Hezbollah General-Secretary Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday threatened Israel with harsh attacks. Israel should relocate its Dimona nuclear reactor, he suggested, because it too is a target for his organization, and one whose destruction could have more dire consequences than an attack on the huge ammonia tank in Haifa that he had previously threatened to destroy.

AG, culture minister agree on how to enforce ‘Nakba Law’

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit met on Sunday and reached an understanding on the manner in which the controversial “Nakba Law” will be implemented, as well as on a number of other issues having to do with government funding for controversial cultural activities.
Enacted in 2011 as an amendment to the Budgets Foundations Law, the Nakba Law sets five cases which a publicly funded institution can be fined for its content: Rejecting Israel’s existence as a Jewish, democratic state; incitement to racism, violence, or terrorism; support for armed resistance or terrorist acts against Israel, either by a foreign country or a terrorist organization; marking the anniversary of Israel’s founding as a day of mourning; or any act of vandalism or physical contempt for the Israeli flag or other national symbols.
Deputy Attorney General Dina Silber and Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Affairs Raz Nizri also participated in the meeting, as did Culture and Sport Ministry Director-General Yossi Sharabi, and Finance Ministry legal counsel Asi Messing.
Regev asked for the meeting after Israel Hayom ran a report about an event hosted by a Jaffa theater in honor of former Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas, who was about to enter prison after being convicted of smuggling telephones to Palestinian security prisoners. The event was publicized with help from a website operated by the New Israel Fund.
In Sunday’s meeting, Regev and Mendelblit agreed that complaints about alleged violations of the Nakba Law by public institutions would be passed on to the Finance Ministry, which would have a week to respond on whether a given incident in fact violates the law.

Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s cousin indicted in shooting plot

The cousin of an east Jerusalem minor who was brutally burned to death in 2014 was indicted on Monday for involvement in a terror cell plotting a shooting attack on Jews driving on a road near Nablus.
Both the 22-year-old, indicted in the Jerusalem District Court along with two others, and his 16-year-old cousin, who was murdered by Jewish terrorist Yosef Chaim Ben David in July 2014, are named Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
According to the indictment, three east Jerusalem residents had been planning a shooting attack on Jews since March as part of their membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
They had made numerous attempts to pay thousands of shekels to acquire a range of weapons, including an M-16, carried out training exercises with a Carlo rifle, met with PFLP coordinators to pick an attack location and considered planting a car bomb to attack a police car.
At least two of the three defendants also engaged in in rock throwing and public disorder against security forces.
Collectively, they are charged with a terrorist conspiracy to commit murder, membership in a terror organization, various weapons-related crimes and attempts to attack policemen.

Mahmoud Abbas Is Aging, Losing Control, and without a Successor

At the age of eighty-two and reportedly in poor health, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president faces declining popularity, yet has made no effort to appoint a successor. He has also taken a much harsher line with Hamas, slashing payments for fuel and, more recently, for hospitals—perhaps out of concern with the threat the organization poses to his rule. Grant Rumley analyzes Abbas’s position with respect to the most recent outbreak of violence:
The [recent rioting in Jerusalem] was finally resolved when Israel removed the security cameras and metal detectors and re-opened [the entrance to the Temple Mount] where the initial terrorist attack took place, but the impact of this near-catastrophic escalation will linger. Palestinians see the massive protests that rocked Jerusalem as the reason for Israel’s acquiescence. When tensions flare again, they’ll look to a political leadership willing to support them in these tactics.
And they may start to look elsewhere for [that] leadership. . . . Abbas has . . . clamped down on political expression, regularly arresting students and shutting down websites critical of his government. To top it off, he spends most of his time outside the West Bank. His people have responded with varying levels of unrest: a majority of Palestinians want him to resign, and refugee camps in the West Bank have become flashpoints for clashes with the PA. The Balata camp in Nablus and the al-Amari camp between Jerusalem and Ramallah have seen sustained fights against PA forces in recent years.
Abbas’s policies [toward Hamas] have also come under heavy scrutiny. . . . A majority of Palestinians view Abbas’s actions as a cruel punishment of everyday Gazans. . . .

Hamas denies existence of tunnels under civilian buildings

The Hamas terror group on Monday denied Israeli allegations that it has built attack tunnels entrances under the homes of Gazan civilians, claiming that the Israeli accusation is meant to lay the groundwork for attacks against residential buildings in any future conflict.
On Wednesday, the head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, revealed the location of two alleged Hamas tunnel sites buried underneath an apartment building and a family home in the northern Gaza Strip, and threatened to blow up both structures despite a desire to avoid civilian casualties.
“Such lies and rumors are part of [Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir’s] failed policy and psychological warfare meant to influence the morale of the Palestinian people and legitimize crimes that he may commit against civilians in Gaza,” Hamas said in a statement published on its official website.
Hamas called on the media not to publish the “lies and rumors of the occupation army,” and on international human rights groups to “carry out their duty to expose the intentions of the Zionist occupation to intentionally target unarmed civilians.”

Egypt opens Gaza crossing for hajj pilgrims

Egypt reopened its border with the Gaza Strip Monday for the first time in months to allow Muslims from the Palestinian enclave to travel to Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage, authorities said.
“The crossing was reopened this morning for four days in one direction for 2,500 pilgrims,” Hisham Adwan, director of information at the crossings authority of the Hamas-run interior ministry, said.
“About 800 pilgrims will leave the Strip today,” he added, saying they had all already received Saudi visas.
The Rafah crossing with Egypt has been largely closed in recent years apart from occasional openings.
Israel has also maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade that it says is necessary to stop the Hamas terror group, which rules the strip, from obtaining weapons that could be used to launch attacks on Israel.

Stop Iran—the Next North Korea—before It’s Too Late

Some prominent opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—as the nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic is formally called—have argued that the U.S. should keep the deal, enforce it rigorously, and at the same time work to push back against Iranian troublemaking throughout the Middle East. Robert Joseph dissents:
[Such an] approach could easily become a quagmire, as questions of compliance with arms-control agreements such as the JCPOA are inherently legalistic, lengthy, and political. Inevitably, it would lead to an entangling debate over whether Iran’s violations are “minor” or rise to the level of material breach. Whatever the outcome, the time lost would be profoundly detrimental to U.S. security interests. If President Trump does not act decisively to end participation in the JCPOA, the near-future is clear: Iran will be the next North Korea, a dangerous adversary on the brink of acquiring a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile.
In place of the JCPOA, the United States must develop and implement a comprehensive strategy of containment and regime change from within. . . . [This] is not a call to replace diplomacy with war, as alarmists will argue. Rather, as it was with the Soviet Union for decades in the cold war, [this strategy] is perhaps the only means to deal effectively with the threat the Islamic Republic poses.
The misplaced hope has long been that the regime will become more moderate or that we will identify a moderate faction within the regime and encourage it to move the country in a positive direction. . . . [But it] is a regime that will not change and cannot change because change would lead to its downfall.

The Future Partition of Syria – An Overview

While the Russian intervention in late 2016 was deliberately publicized, the Americans chose to remain under the radar. It was not until mid-2017 that the American flag was shown openly on Syrian territory. The purpose was very clear: to dissuade Turkey from crossing east of the Euphrates to quell both the Islamic State and the burgeoning independent Kurdish state.
The Assad regime, backed by the Russians, Iran, and its Shiite satellites (Hizbullah, Afghani, Pakistani, and Iraqi), holds about 40 percent of Syria’s original territory, with the remainder held by Kurds, the Islamic State, and Syrian opposition groups.
Facing a possibility of a political settlement between Russia and the Western alliance led by the United States, the different parties involved in the civil war in Syria are trying to improve their positions on the ground to consolidate their positions so that they can be part of the political process that will determine the future of Syria.

Syria Investigator: UN Has Evidence of Assad War Crimes But is Doing Nothing

“The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria has gathered enough evidence for President Bashar al-Assad to be convicted of war crimes, a prominent member of the commission, Carla del Ponte, said in remarks published on Sunday.
Del Ponte, 70, who prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, announced last week that she was stepping down from her role in frustration at the U.N. Security Council’s failure to continue the commission’s work by setting up a special tribunal for Syria that could try alleged war criminals.
She has not said when she will leave her post.
Asked in an interview with Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung whether there was enough evidence for Assad to be convicted of war crimes, she said: ‘Yes, I am convinced that is the case. That is why the situation is so frustrating. The preparatory work has been done. Despite that, there is no prosecutor and no court.’…
The commission was set up in August 2011 and has regularly reported on human rights violations, but its pleas to observe international law have largely fallen on deaf ears.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Wow! May I Ask What Ethnic Cleanser You Use? By Bashar Assad, President, Syrian Arab Republic (satire)

I must admit I’m impressed by the thoroughness of your work. It’s pristine! You have to tell me – what ethnic cleanser do you use?
I’ve seen the campaigns that tout one product or the other as the most effective ethnic cleanser, but I always take such publicity with a grain of salt, because those “demonstrations” are always conducted under very controlled conditions, when the surrounding areas have already been sanitized. That simply does not match the real-world situation that faces anyone with the task of ethnic cleansing a surface involves. But you managed to get every last stretch of the area immaculate. What’s your secret?
Not that I haven’t seen perfect ethnic cleansing before. The Jordanians had quite an imposing task before them in 1948, but they managed to wipe away every last Jewish germ from the areas they took. So effective was their cleansing work that not a single Jew could penetrate the sanitary boundary they set up afterwards – a feat that wouldn’t have been possible had they left behind any undesirable organisms when they performed the initial cleansing.
Even the vaunted Nazis, with their reputation for efficiency, could only manage to cleanse 96% of Lithuania’s pre-war numbers, and that took years. Granted, there were many fewer undesirable organisms in the territories Jordan conquered in 1948, but one has to acknowledge effective cleansing when one sees it.

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