Amb. Alan Baker: UNRWA Condemns the Palestinians to Refugee Status in Perpetuity
The “United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (UNRWA) was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1949 as a distinctly temporary entity to assist in reintegration, repatriation, or resettlement, with a view to furthering peace.
But according to UNRWA’s mandate, refugee status extends to cover all future generations of Palestinians, and specifically “descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948.” Rather than narrowing the problem, this definition has extended it, with refugee status now applying into the fourth generation of Palestinians, exploding the number of registered refugees from an estimated 700,000 back in 1949 (per UNRWA’s claims) to 5,000,000.1
This UNRWA mandate is far beyond the accepted international definitions and criteria for refugees that are the basis for the much more successful model for international refugee relief – the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), formed in 1950. The UNHCR seeks to resettle refugees, not perpetuate their camp existence.
The UNHRC operates on the basis of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which does not say a word about passing refugee status to descendants. Refugee status, according to the convention, is not permanent.
Refugees who become naturalized in their host countries, according to the convention, lose their refugee status. In contrast, in the UNRWA system, a Palestinian refugee who was born in Zurich and has a Swiss passport is still defined as a refugee.
Any attempt to reach a final Israeli-Palestinian peace must require a complete suspension of UNRWA funding and financing with a view to dissolving the agency and dismantling the refugee camps. New housing should replace them. Funding should be transformed into direct assistance to the appropriate agencies to carry out this task. If the goal of a future agreement is to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all, then UNRWA’s current configuration makes a final peace impossible to achieve.
UNRWA announced Monday it sealed a Hamas tunnel found two months ago that the terrorist group had built under two of its school in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.
Canada’s Representative to the Palestinian Authority Scott Proudfoot congratulated the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees Monday for taking care of the tunnel.
“Visited school in Meghazi #refugee camp #Gaza; bravo @UNRWA for upholding neutrality & protecting children by detecting & filling in tunnel,” he tweeted.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness confirmed UNRWA had closed the tunnel, which it discovered at the beginning of June after the Maghazi Elementary Boys A&B School and the Maghaz Preparatory Boys School had been closed for the summer.
In a press release written in June, Gunness said, “UNRWA can confirm that the tunnel has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way.”
“UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way,” he said.
“The construction and presence of tunnels under UN premises are incompatible with the respect of privileges and immunities owed to the United Nations under applicable international law, which provides that UN premises shall be inviolable. The sanctity and neutrality of UN premises must be preserved at all times,” Gunness wrote
The Palestinians have a condition for the US to be accepted by them as a mediator in the conflict with Israel: bias in favor of the Palestinians. This is the Palestinian state of mind: If you are not with us, you are against us.
In the Palestinian logic, the US administration must endorse the Palestinian narrative and comply with all their demands if it wishes to broker “peace” with Israel. The Palestinians do indeed want the US to be involved – as an axeman for their execution of Israel.
The Palestinians are prepared to cooperate with any US administration, on one condition only: that it forces Israel to withdraw fully to the 1949 armistice lines and allow the incompetent and discredited Mahmoud Abbas to establish a corrupt, undemocratic and failed state, one that would set its predatory sights on the now-much-harder-to-defend State of Israel.
Until recently, Abbas and his Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank believed that the new president would swallow their fabrications and perhaps collude with them to bring Israel down. At one stage, Abbas even instructed his aides and spokesmen to avoid making any criticism against Trump or his administration, toward just this goal.
However, the Palestinian tone has changed in recent weeks. Palestinian officials and factions and political commentators are no longer concealing their distrust of — and disdain for — the Trump administration. The “honeymoon” between the Palestinians and the Trump administration is over.
Ruthies Blum: The Real Lessons from Charlottesville
The majority of the Arab citizens of the Jewish state, who make up one-fifth of its population, not only know that Abbas totally distorts history to keep a stranglehold on his people and maintain status at the United Nations, but enjoy full rights as equal members of Israeli society. They have political parties and seats in the Knesset, hold seats on the Supreme Court, and are among the country’s prominent academics, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. Israel is a liberal democracy, after all.
In America, two liberal organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Rutherford Institute, defended the “constitutional and civil right” of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists to hold their rally in Charlottesville. When the free speech turned into illegal riots, however, the ACLU of Virginia stated:
“What happened… had nothing to do with free speech. It devolved into conduct against individuals motivated by hate that was initially thuggish, and ultimately, deliberately murderous. There will be a time to investigate, assign responsibility, and seek accountability, and we will be a voice in that process. For now, we decry white nationalism, reject hatred, and weep.”
Abbas and his henchmen in the PA, in contrast, do not allow freedom of expression. They do not “weep” over the “thuggish” and “deliberately murderous” conduct of their populace; instead, they champion and fund it. A Palestinian who uses his car as a deadly weapon is viewed by his peers and rulers as a hero. Physical violence is officially sanctioned and rewarded. An American who commits violence is demonized by everyone other than a handful of hard-core bigots.
Still, many in the U.S. consider America to be a racist country and the Palestinians worthy of stalwart support. This is the true meaning of what George Orwell called “doublethink” — the “power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
On the eve of team Trump’s imminent visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, let us hope that Washington is not becoming similarly afflicted.
Michael Signer, the Jewish mayor of Charlottesville, has one thing in common with the white supremacists who descended on his southern Virginia city over the weekend: He also opposed the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Of course, Signer’s reasons for preserving the statue would have appalled the supremacists: He agreed with local African-American activists who had argued that preserving the statue was a means of teaching Virginians about the horrors of a “dishonorable” cause, the Confederacy.
Signer was on the losing side of a 3-2 City Council decision, and the statue is now slated for removal. But his thoughtful approach, more typical of an academic than a politician, has also been evident in his counsel during the rash of protests that have plagued this city: “Don’t take the bait,” he has said.
In giving that advice, Signer has noted that for the first time in his life, he has been the target of intense baiting as a Jew.
“I can’t see the world through a black person’s eyes,” he said at a June 13 address at an African-American church, where he urged constituents not to give in to the impulse to counter hatred with hatred.
“I can see it through a Jewish person’s eyes; the KKK hates Jews just as much as they hate black people. The stuff with this group online about Jews is unbelievable, bloodcurdling. The stuff I’ve gotten on my phone at my house, you’d think it was done a hundred years ago.”
On the one hand, Jews have been discriminated against for centuries, including by white cultures from Nazi Germany to the United States. On the other, many Jews have attained a significant measure of acceptance, and many can often “pass” as white when not wearing traditional Jewish symbols.
Implicitly at stake in this argument is whether efforts to combat racism should prioritize prejudice against Jews or whether other persecuted populations should take precedence.
Personally, I’ve found this debate beside the point, and this weekend’s disturbing events in Charlottesville perfectly illustrate why: The white supremacists have already made their decision.
When white nationalists descended upon the historic Virginia city to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, their “Unite the Right” rally gathered a veritable who’s who of top neo-Nazis in the United States, including Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and alt-right leading light Richard Spencer, among others.
They immediately went after the Jews. At their Friday night rally at the University of Virginia, the white nationalists brandished torches and chanted anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans, including “blood and soil” (an English rendering of the Nazi “blut und boden”) and “Jews will not replace us” — all crafted to cast Jews as foreign interlopers who need to be expunged. The attendees proudly displayed giant swastikas and wore shirts emblazoned with quotes from Adolf Hitler. One banner read, “Jews are Satan’s children.”
“The truth is,” Duke told a large crowd Saturday, “the American media, and the American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause.” Addressing another group, Richard Spencer mocked Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor, Mike Signer. “Little Mayor Signer — ‘See-ner’ — how do you pronounce this little creep’s name?” Spencer asked. The crowd responded by chanting, “Jew, Jew, Jew.” In TV interviews, attendees were not shy about their anti-Semitism.
From hardcore neo-Nazis to David Duke to such newer faces as Richard Spencer, many members of what has been termed the “alternative right” have displayed an admiration for Bashar al-Assad. Since Assad is the head of a political party that combines nationalism and socialism, and has dedicated a great deal of effort to killing Jews, perhaps this should not be particularly surprising. Liz Sly and Rick Noack write:
Assad’s politics—and those of his father before him—have historically been associated more with the left than the right. His late father, President Hafez al-Assad, was the closest Middle Eastern ally of the Soviet Union throughout the cold war. The son has enjoyed the stalwart support of international leftists throughout his attempt to crush the six-year-old rebellion against his rule.
In recent months, however, Assad has [also] become an icon for the far right, whose leaders and spokesman have heaped praise on the ferocity with which he has prosecuted the war, his [alleged] role in fighting Islamic State, and his perceived stance against Muslims and Jews.
That Assad’s harsh methods have resulted in [hundreds] of thousands of civilian casualties seems only to have enhanced his stature. In a video posted on Twitter, three men who participated in the Charlottesville protests hailed Assad’s use of barrel bombs to subdue communities that turned against him. One is wearing a T-shirt that says: “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.”
Radio host, conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump supporter Alex Jones — who earlier this year ranted about a “Jewish mafia” run by billionaire George Soros — was at it again Sunday with a theory that “leftist Jews” may have impersonated Nazis to discredit white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Speaking on “The Alex Jones Show,” Jones recalled his own experience, he said, protesting the Ku Klux Klan:
“I mean, quite frankly, I’ve been to these events, a lot of the KKK guys with their hats off look like they’re from the cast of “Seinfeld.” Literally they’re just Jewish actors. Nothing against Jews in general, but they are leftists Jews that want to create this clash and they go dress up as Nazis. I have footage in Austin — we’re going to find it somewhere here at the office — where it literally looks like cast of “Seinfeld” or like Howard Stern in a Nazi outfit. They all look like Howard Stern. They almost got like little curly hair down, and they’re just up there heiling Hitler. You can tell they are totally uncomfortable, they are totally scared, and it’s all just meant to create the clash.”
As Jones explained in a video of his remarks video posted Saturday titled “ Virginia Riots Staged To Bring In Martial Law, Ban Conservative Gatherings.”
By George, I think he’s got it! pic.twitter.com/QZT0I9610R
— neontaster (@neontaster) August 14, 2017
Former California governor and action star Arnold Schwarzenegger has donated $100,000 to the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday.
Schwarzenegger wrote an emotional Facebook post on Monday about the events of the weekend, when a woman was killed during a white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I have been horrified by the images of Nazis and white supremacists marching in Charlottesville,” he wrote. “I was heartbroken that a domestic terrorist took an innocent life.”
To that end, he said, he donated the money to “an anti-hate organization I’ve worked with for decades.”
The “state of Palestine” presents a far greater threat to Israel than a third intifada or persistent terrorism. This threat, which would further exacerbate the area’s correlation of forces, is potentially existential. Under certain circumstances, Palestinian Arab statehood could meaningfully enlarge the prospects of both mega-terror attacks and regional nuclear war, warns Prof. Louis René Beres of Purdue University, expert on nuclear strategy and a frequent columnist on Arutz Sheva..
In an article published on the Begin-Sadat (BESA Center) website, he explains that examining the subject in depth shows that the danger to Israel from a Palestinian Arab state is far greater than is generally stated, and that it may be existential.
However, he pointed out, the actual danger is indirect – as in the case of a disease that is not serious enough to kill a person, but weakens it in such a way that other diseases can kill it. However, he said, it is also possible that a Palestinian Arab state would pose a mortal danger in itself, but would implement the danger in a piecemeal manner.
According to Beres, since any Palestinian Arab state will be created at the expense of the State of Israel, Israel will weaken as a result of the agreement, while the Palestinian Arab entity will be strengthened. On the basis of Palestinian Arab declarations and positions over the years, there is no escaping the conclusion that in this situation, the Palestinian Arabs will continue their terrorist activities and terrorism will expand in scope.
As for the fear of a third intifada, he wrote, it makes no sense for Israel to encourage its adversaries to become an even more organized and powerful entity, because such an entity could cause Israel greater damage. For example, it could attack the reactor in Dimona. Beres notes that polls conducted by the PA found that most of the residents there support the armed struggle against Israel.
According to Beres, the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state would reduce Israel’s strategic depth, which is limited in any case.
The Palestinian leadership is considering turning to international institutions including the UN afresh, if US President Donald Trump’s administration fails to revive a “serious” peace process, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said on Monday.
“We are giving the Americans a chance to move a serious peace process forward and we hope they succeed, but if they fail to make progress, we will turn to international institutions including the United Nations to request full membership,” Ahmad said in a phone interview.
The Palestinian leadership submitted a formal application to gain full membership in the UN in 2011, but it was rejected because it had insufficient support from the UN Security Council. The Palestinian leadership could try to gain full membership again by submitting another membership application, but US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley would likely block it. Haley has consistently defended the Israeli government since arriving at the UN.
Ahmad defined a “serious peace process” as one in which the US and Israel announce their support for a two-state solution and Israel halts settlement activity.
Both Israel and the US have not endorsed the two-state solution since Trump assumed office in January. Meanwhile, Israel has committed to limiting construction to the settlement blocs as much as possible, but rejected freezing settlement activity altogether.
When war broke out between Hizballah and Israel in the summer of 2006, the U.S. expected that the IDF would achieve a quick and decisive victory, resulting in a better situation than the status quo ante. Such an outcome would benefit the U.S. and Israel, could help Lebanon break free of Hizballah’s influence, and was even desired by many Arab governments. As the war dragged on, however, then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice lost confidence in then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and the possibility of a decisive Israeli victory receded. Elliott Abrams, who at the time served on President Bush’s National Security Council, recalls:
[A]fter two weeks of war, new realities began to surface. The IDF was not decimating Hizballah, as just about everyone had expected. The fact that combat continued meant that there was, inevitably, some damage to [Lebanese] infrastructure and collateral damage to civilian life. Hizballah did a masterful job at propaganda that falsely multiplied the scale of damage, and in this it was greatly aided by [then-Lebanese Prime Minister] Fouad Siniora and his government. . . .
The Arab governments grew nervous, because their “street” was watching Al Jazeera depict the total destruction of Lebanon. This was a lie, but a powerful one. Typically, the Europeans wrung their hands—and that was all they did or even thought about doing. . . .
So, by week three, American resolve was dissipating. There would be no great Israeli victory; we had no allies in holding out for something better than the status quo ante; Siniora was acting essentially as Hizballah’s advocate; and to Rice, Israeli policy seemed lost, to the point that she began to lose confidence in Olmert and in the IDF. . . .
[In the end], Hizballah emerged larger and better armed, the Lebanese government and armed forces became weaker in the [southern part of the country], and, though the UN International Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon was enlarged, it remained unable and unwilling to challenge Hizballah.
Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson has disavowed a campaign against National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, which is being pushed by a group Adelson funds, the Zionist Organization of America.
Andy Abboud, who represents Adelson, tells me: “Sheldon Adelson has nothing to do with the ZOA campaign against McMaster. Had no knowledge of it. And has provided zero support, and is perfectly comfortable with the role that McMaster is playing.”
Update: Abboud followed up with another phone call to clarify that Adelson doesn’t know McMaster and hasn’t developed an opinion about him. Adelson doesn’t want his intervention to be interpreted as a political endorsement; but rather that he has had nothing to do with, and doesn’t support, the campaign against McMaster.
Why this matters: Adelson is one of the biggest financial donors in Republican politics, and his influence over national security and Israel-related matters is substantial. His is a voice listened to by President Trump and other senior White House officials like Jared Kushner.
Several top Israeli and American experts on nuclear proliferation and Iran say the failure to successfully deal with North Korea sets a precedent for a similar result with the Islamic Republic.
“The aspect of the North Korean case that needs to be taken into account with regard to Iran is the fact that despite all the differences between the two states, they share a determination to acquire nuclear weapons in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitment they took upon themselves to remain non-nuclear,” said Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.
Although North Korea exited the NPT in 2003, the international community did not view that move as giving the rogue state carte blanche to become nuclear, she noted.
“The international community faces a similar challenge in getting [Iran and North Korea] to back down and return to the fold of the NPT,” Landau told JNS.org, “and in both cases the strategy chosen for this was negotiations and diplomacy.”
The North Korean case entails 25 years of failed negotiations. The country has been a nuclear state for at least a decade and now has demonstrated the ability to reach the US with an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Pyongyang is a long way from Tehran. The crisis created by the rapid advancements in North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities and ratcheted up by the American president’s bellicose response to them seems remote from the issues of the Middle East. But it would be a mistake to think what is happening in and around the Korean peninsula has no bearing on the future of efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear programme.
Donald Trump, the US president, has already indicated that it is his belief that Iran is not complying with the spirit of the nuclear accord that became one of the signature accomplishments of the presidency of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Mr Trump has also said he would have liked to decertify Iran for non-compliance with the terms of the programme earlier this year and that he intends to do so soon. So, we know we have a crisis brewing that will not only pit the US against Iran but seems likely to trigger tensions between the US and other P5 members that were party to the Iran agreement. They don’t share Mr Trump’s view and they seem unlikely to go along with his confrontational approach.
The pressure of going against the wishes of his partners in the deal might be seen as a potential deterrent to Mr Trump – if not because he is responsive to outside pressure then because US sanctions are unlikely to have much effect if the rest of the world is not going along with them. Further, his being an outlier internationally might trigger political pressure on Mr Trump at home to moderate his views.
But, North Korea has had the effect of reawakening America to the palpable threat of nuclear war. At no time since the Cuban Missile Crisis has US media focused so much on the possibility of a nuclear strike against America by a rogue state. In the US territory of Guam, homeland security officials have issued instructions about what to do in the event of an attack, including tips like not looking directly at the nuclear fireball. These warnings have been broadcast by CNN to the US mainland. The result is not just a heightened level of anxiety but a much greater public awareness of the dangers of nuclear proliferation.
Israel will soon re-open its embassy in Cairo, some nine months after it was closed due to security concerns, Israel media widely reported Tuesday.
The Foreign Ministry would not confirm the reports, saying it does not discuss security arrangements at Israeli embassies.
Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, David Govrin, was pulled out of the country with the entire embassy staff in December. He has been working out of Jerusalem since.
“Due to security concerns, we have limited the return of the Foreign Ministry embassy team to Cairo,” the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said at the time.
Haaretz reported on Tuesday that an Israeli security team went to Cairo in recent weeks to review security arrangements needed to reopen the embassy, and a Foreign Ministry team was there on Sunday for the same purpose earlier this week.
Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo in September of 2015, four years to the day after a mob invaded and trashed the legation. The incident forced Israel to airlift its diplomats out of Egypt, and thus plunged the countries into a series of diplomatic crises — the worst diplomatic crises between the two neighbors in 30 years.
Netanyahu is planning trips to Argentina and Mexico in September that would make him the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Latin America.
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the region before flying directly to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19, according to The Jerusalem Post. He would return to Israel for Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 20.
“Latin America has always been friendly to Israel, but I think we’re at a position where these relationships can be far, far, far advanced,” Netanyahu told President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala last fall.
The Jerusalem Post noted the trip would coincide with the 70th anniversary of the U.N. partition plan vote, when 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries were among 33 states that cast ballots in its favor, paving the way for Israel’s independence.
A lawmaker from the Likud party held office hours Monday outside an entrance to the Temple Mount in protest of an ongoing ban against MKs visiting the holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem, imposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Yehudah Glick, who was shot in 2014 over his campaign for Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount, said it was a one-day action.
“I’m here to protest the fact that the prime minister won’t enable police to allow us to enter the Temple Mount,” Glick told journalists at the site.
“I suffer every day I can’t enter the Temple Mount,” he said, as he held court at one of the gates to the compound alongside a number of bodyguards.
In 2014, a Palestinian terrorist attempted to assassinate Glick, telling Glick, right before pulling the trigger, that he was “an enemy of al-Aqsa,” the Temple Mount mosque.
On Monday, Glick described the site as “the essence of my life.”
“There’s no reason in the world to think that my entering the Temple Mount will stir trouble,” he said.
“The Jewish God is inclusive… He wants to see the prayer of Muslims and Jews and Christians and Indonesians and Mexicans,” Glick said.
“We don’t want to harm the Muslims, on the contrary… when I see a Muslim praying at the Temple Mount it fills my heart with great joy. It shows me the fulfillment of the prophecies of our prophets.”
The state was due to submit its response to the appeal filed by the Regavim national lands preservation movement today (Tuesday) in the matter of illegal UN construction in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood.
In a secret meeting Netanyahu held last weekend with a senior and limited team of ministers and from which Jewish Home ministers were absent, it was decided to postpone the state’s response and thus allow the continuation of the work.
The UN is continuing renovations of its quarters at Armon Hanatziv using Israeli construction companies without obtaining the necessary building permits – despite the fact that the historic building was declared many years ago by the Jerusalem Municipality as a structure that is to be preserved, meaning approval is required for any and all construction work.
The Regavim petition to the Jerusalem District Court revealed illegal construction by the UN in the compound, as well as the fact that the UN took over an area of about 30 dunams close to Armon Hanatziv without a permit, putting it in the category of an illegal squatter..
In response to the petition, the state declared that the work was indeed illegal, but that the UN enjoyed diplomatic immunity that precludes legal proceedings against it. Regavim asked the court to issue at least an interim injunction against two Israeli companies – the Avner Gilad construction company and the planning company, Ronen, who are actually carrying out the illegal work in the compound, and do not enjoy diplomatic immunity.
The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday extended the remand of firebrand Muslim cleric Sheikh Raed Salah, arrested overnight Monday, for two more days.
Salah, from the Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, was arrested on suspicion of incitement to violence and terror, as well as supporting and being active in a banned organization — the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which he heads.
The judge reprimanded police for not disclosing all of the information that led to Salah’s arrest.
Before the hearing, Salah dismissed his arrest was simply a tactic to divert attention from various corruption investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“What is happening today is a continuation of the persecution of the Arab public by the Israeli government,” he said. “This is political persecution and an attempt to confuse the media so that they will pay attention to my arrest and ignore the accusations against the prime minister,” he said.
Joint List lawmaker Masud Ganaim said the arrest was persecution against the religious leader and the people of Umm al-Fahm.
Police arrested five members of the family of Omar al-Abed, the terrorist who murdered three civilians in Halamish (Neve Tzuf) last month.
The family members were arrested on suspicion of failing to report a crime.
The investigation into the Friday night massacre, which left Yosef Salomon, 70, his daughter Chaya, 46, and his son Elad, 35, dead, revealed that the terrorist’s family knew about the attack shortly before it occurred, at the very least, and failed to report al-Abed’s intentions to either Israeli or PA authorities.
Al-Abed broke into the Salomon house as they were having their Shabbat evening dinner and celebrating the birth of a new grandson.
A financial pipeline used by Hamas to transfer funds to terrorists’ families in Jerusalem was recently exposed in a joint operation by the Shin Bet security agency and the Israel Police.
A Shin Bet statement released Monday said the money was transferred by Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip, with the goal of encouraging terrorist attacks and supporting the families of terrorists killed or imprisoned in Israel.
In light of intelligence provided by the Shin Bet, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman authorized confiscating the funds, or sums equivalent to them, to the tune of more than 130,000 shekels ($36,000). In addition, more than NIS 100,000 ($28,000) in cash was found by security forces in searches of the homes of suspected recipients.
In total, security forces raided eight homes of terrorists in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras al-Amud, Beit Hanina, Issawiya and Wadi Joz.
According to the Shin Bet, among those to whom Hamas transferred money was Hassan Mahani from Beit Hanina, the father of one of the teenage perpetrators of a stabbing attack in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev in October 2015.
Water flowed for the first time through a new 13-km. pipeline in the Samaria region of the West Bank, inaugurated on Monday. It was put into place to alleviate water shortages in the settlements of Peduel, Alei-Zahav and Bruchin and in the surrounding Palestinian villages in Area C.
“The importance of laying this pipeline today can’t be overestimated,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, who inaugurated its opening with Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz.
It will provide an additional 2,500 to 3,000 cu.m. of water daily, said Dagan. Unfortunately, he added, “it only solves 25% of the problem.”
There are still three water lines that need to be completed and portions of the project have not yet received final approvals, Dagan said.
Benny Elbaz of the Civil Administration said that an additional 7,500 cu.m. would be available next year when another section of the pipeline will be laid near the Ofarim settlement.
Reliable Fatah sources say that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ deteriorating health, coupled with the alliance Hamas has forged with his bitter political rival Muhammad Dahlan, have forced him to focus on the domestic Palestinian front. Abbas has also come to realize that no salvation for the Palestinians is on the way from the Trump administration, which, in his view, is biased in Israel’s favor.
Abbas has indeed decided – unofficially – to take a timeout from diplomatic issues and the possibility of renewing negotiations with Israel. He has decided to freeze all contacts with Israel, including security coordination, and put forth a set of conditions for rescinding his decision – first and foremost, Israeli recognition of the two-state solution.
Abbas is well aware that the right-wing Israeli government will not accede to his demands. Hence, in an attempt to pressure Israel and thereby improve his weak status among the Palestinian public, he is deliberately opting for a situation of diplomatic stalemate.
Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.
“If America wants to go back to the experience [of imposing sanctions], Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month but within hours — to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations [in 2015],” Rouhani told a session of the Iranian parliament broadcast live on state television.
Rouhani’s remarks followed the parliament’s move this week to allocate some $260 million to Iran’s ballistic missile program and a similar amount to the elite Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ extraterritorial military unit, in retaliation for new U.S. sanctions.
The bill and Rouhani’s comments are seen as a direct threat over new U.S. legislation passed this month imposing mandatory penalties on anyone involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with such people. The U.S. legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to the Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.
If Washington continues with “threats and sanctions” against Iran, Tehran could easily restart the nuclear program, the Iranian president stressed.
“In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced [nuclear] level than at the beginning of the negotiations” that preceded the 2015 deal, Rouhani said. He did not elaborate.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced on Monday a new head of the regime’s influential Expediency Council, consolidating the influence of conservative hardliners.
The new head of the council — which advises the supreme leader and mediates between the Iranian parliament and the much more powerful Guardians Council — is Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the former head of the judiciary who has been widely touted as a potential successor to the 78-year-old Khamenei. A fervent critic of the Saudi government, Shahroudi has in the past condemned the “Saudis crimes in Yemen” as being “greater than the Israeli crimes against humanity in Gaza.”
Also included in the 44-member council — composed entirely of men — is the former Iranian president, notorious Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The appointment of Ahmadinejad flies in the face of predictions that his political career was over after he was barred from standing in the Iranian presidential election earlier this year.
Other appointments to the council include hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi and outgoing Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, both of whom were defeated by current President Hassan Rouhani — often portrayed as a “moderate” by Western media outlets and politicians – in the May election.
Kurdish media outlets reported favorably on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for Kurdish independence on Monday, highlighting the fact that his position is shared by several other leading Israeli officials.
Last week, Netanyahu told a delegation of 33 Republican Congressmen visiting Israel that the Kurds are “brave, pro-Western people who share our values,” expressing support for an independent Kurdish state. On September 25, voters in the Kurdistan region of Iraq will cast their ballots in a long-awaited independence referendum.
Broadcaster Kurdistan 24 noted that “Netanyahu’s support differs from the usual US administration’s position, which supports a united Iraq, also known as the ‘one-Iraq’ policy.”
“Israel has been the only state to have publicly voiced its support for Kurdish statehood in northern Iraq,” the report said.
“Netanyahu is not the only Israeli official to express support for the Kurds in Iraq as others have also highlighted the cause,” the report continued. “Former Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had previously called upon the international community to help the Kurds in the fight against Islamic State (IS).”
The Kurdistan 24 report added, “Last year, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stated, ‘We [the State of Israel] must openly call for the establishment of a Kurdish state that separates Iran from Turkey, one which will be friendly toward Israel. The Kurds are politically moderate, have proven they can be politically committed, and are worthy of statehood.”
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