November 22, 2019

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11/09 Links Pt1: Let’s stop lying to ourselves about a Palestinian state; Palestinian children commit terror attacks to enhance their status in society

From Ian:

Saudi Arabia has united with Israel against Iran – and a desert storm is brewing
For the Crown Prince’s supporters — vast swathes of the country’s young, eager for progressive social change — his way may be dictatorial but his motives are honourable. The purge represents the opening salvo in a fight against corruption that comes with an embrace of moderate Islam, a determination to relax the strict segregation of the sexes and introduce entertainment venues. Why should ordinary Saudis have sympathy for the arrested if they have, as alleged, been engaged in massive criminal schemes involving bribery and money laundering? When did any of those speak up on behalf of the oppressed masses?

Bin Salman’s power grab is in itself spectacular. But the wider significance of this can only be fully understood in conjunction with events in Israel. The Jewish state is hardly a natural ally for Saudi Arabia, but they have long shared a common enemy: Iran. Both fear the latter is exploiting the opening created by the fall of Isis, and the triumph of the Assad regime in Syria, to dominate the region. Iran and its proxies — whether the Houthi rebels in Yemen or Hezbollah in Lebanon — are in the ascendant, and neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia are going to sit on the sidelines.

So the two have been working together: close diplomatic cooperation, intelligence sharing and perhaps more. Israeli media recently reported that a senior Saudi prince, possibly Bin Salman himself, paid a secret visit to the Jewish state. The idea of a Saudi-Israeli alliance is still deeply controversial in both countries, but details are starting to leak out.

Amid the recent madness, for example, we saw the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Saudi puppet. He was summoned to Riyadh, where he was forced to read a letter announcing his immediate departure, the official reason being that he feared an assassination attempt by Hezbollah. But why would a prime minister visit a foreign capital to resign? The odds are that he had no idea he was resigning until he landed in Riyadh to meet Saudis furious at him for holding talks with both Iranian and Hezbollah officials. His departure has shocked the region.

But it didn’t shock the Israelis. A leaked memo shows Israeli diplomats being instructed to back the Saudi version of events, and start to join Riyadh in denouncing the Houthi rebels. Such diplomatic coordination is dangerous, given that an alliance has the potential to create a massive backlash among ordinary Saudis. For generations, they have been taught that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs and Israel is the eternal enemy.

This brings us back to the night of the long knives. An outpouring of anti-Israeli sentiment might, only a few months ago, have provided a rallying cry for those determined to oust the Crown Prince. They would have likely turned to Al-Waleed bin Talal, a fierce critic of Trump and the most vocal Saudi supporter of the Palestinians. But he is in prison, presumably as a warning to anyone who shows opposition to the young new broom.

PMW: Palestinian children commit terror attacks to enhance their status in society

For almost a decade, the Palestinian NGO Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) has unjustifiably been accusing Israel of breaching the rights of Palestinian minors who are arrested on suspicion of committing terror attacks. Most recently, DCI-P launched a campaign in the US and in Canada under the title “No Way to Treat a Child”, whose goal is “to challenge and end Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.”

Among other baseless claims, DCI-P argues that the Palestinian minors are arrested, interrogated in breach of all of their rights, prosecuted and sentenced to prison terms.

A recent interview with DCI-P’s Accountability Program Director Ayed Abu Qteish on official PA TV, shows that the claims made by his own organization are false. Abu Qteish explained that Palestinian minors do in fact commit terror attacks, and they do it, not necessarily because they want to attack Israelis, but in order to enhance or maintain their status in Palestinian society.
Ayed Abu Qteish: “There are children who, when they were in prison, told the lawyer: ‘I want to be imprisoned.’ The first time [the child] was imprisoned, he didn’t confess, and they released him because there was no evidence to convict him in the Israeli military court. The second time, there was no evidence either. The third time, he wanted to be imprisoned so that his image won’t be hurt in the eyes of his friends, even though he is actually innocent… In several cases [Palestinian children] carried out stabbing operations because of the way the public looks at them. They realized ‘the best way to clear myself of this image [of helping Israel] is to participate in resistance operations.'”
[Official PA TV, Personal Encounter, Oct. 11, 2017]

Let’s stop lying to ourselves about a Palestinian state

Pressure sometimes gets good things out of people. A year after Donald Trump was elected US president, and in the middle of Benjamin Netanyahu’s investigations and his family’s legal woes, the prime minister has started talking about his ideological aspirations.

Prime ministers discuss ideology in two cases: Either before they rise to power or when they step down. It’s one of the best reasons for limiting a prime minister’s term, to give him a limited amount of time to implement his beliefs or abandon them (in the event that he lied).

Last Friday, at the Chatham House independent policy institute in London, Netanyahu was asked about the option of a Palestinian state. He replied that we have seen many Muslim states in the Middle East fail and that the model of modern sovereignty with no boundaries should be reexamined (in other words, we should no longer rely on the 1967 borders).

To the people sitting in the room it may have seemed like another typical attempt to avoid making any progress towards a Palestinian state, but there was actually a refined moment of truth there.

Since the Bar-Ilan speech, which was basically forced on Netanyahu by former US President Barack Obama, Israel has been lying to itself and lying to the world. There is no prime minister who believes in a return to the 1967 lines, including minor border corrections.

Israeli, American lawmakers to push ‘victory over Palestinians’ paradigm in US events

A right-wing project working to shift the paradigm to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by declaring Israeli victory will make a new push next week to garner public support in the US.

Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Philadelphia- based Middle East Forum, who formulated the Israel Victory Project, is set to address students and members of the public at Columbia University’s Chabad center on Monday night alongside two MKs who support the initiative.

The project seeks to change the narrative in Washington around the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, by promoting a policy that declares “Israeli victory” and “Palestinian defeat.”

“The proposed policy calls for an end to the continuously futile ‘peace process’ that has led countless world leaders to believe that peace could be achieved by compromise and mediations,” the project says.

“The Israel Victory Project introduces a new policy for a peaceful solution: The Palestinians ‘lose’ by giving up their century-long rejection of the Jewish state, and Israel ‘wins’ by truly succeeding in its 150- year quest for a sovereign homeland.”

The group believes that the only way to end a conflict is by declaring a winner and a loser.

MEMRI: In Article On Occasion Of Balfour Declaration Centenary, Palestinian Authority President ‘Abbas Says Any Final Resolution Of Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Must Include Implementation Of UN Resolution 194 ‘To Restore Palestine Refugees To Their Homes’

In an English article published November 2, 2017 in The Cairo Review of Global Affairs,[1] Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud ‘Abbas set out the PLO’s credo and vision for peace, and called on Britain to apologize for the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. He said that this declaration, anchored in “white supremacist” views, “disregarded the wishes, aspirations, and the very rights of the indigenous population of Palestine” and ultimately led to the catastrophe and exodus of the Palestinian people in 1948. He also stated that, after supporting the Zionist movement in establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, Britain and the international community failed to implement the UN Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan of 1947), and later also “failed to implement Resolution 194 (III) to restore Palestine refugees to their homes.” Stressing that any final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict must include the realization of Resolution 194 and the Arab Peace Initiative, namely “a just solution for the seven million Palestinian refugees based on the choice of every refugee,” he urged Britain and the international community to make amends for the Balfour declaration by “recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital,” and by taking steps to realize the political rights of the Palestinian people, the very rights that were denied by Balfour a century ago.”

The following is the article:
“This year, our nation marks one hundred years of the Balfour Declaration. Lord Arthur Balfour was a British foreign secretary who decided to change the identity and fate of Palestine, a land that he did not own, by promising it to the Zionist movement, and dramatically altering the history of the Palestinian people. On this somber anniversary, it is important to recall some key historic facts, which remain relevant toward achieving a just, lasting, and peaceful resolution to a century of injustice.

When Prophesies of Doom Crash on the Realities of Demographics

“We have reached the ideal population size, we have filled the land, now we can start limiting the birthrate and think about the quality life and what kind of country we really want to be”

This is the topic of the book “The Land is Full,” written by Professor Alon Tal, who foresees a dark demographic future for Israel.

The “demographic problem” that Tal foresaw was not a Jewish minority, but actually the opposite – a high Israeli birthrate that in a relatively short amount of time could lead to a population explosion. Tal expects that by 2050, between 23 and 36 million people will live in Israel. The expected population explosion comes from the Jewish sector, the complete opposite of traditional leftwing dire predictions.

In doing so, Tal demolishes the “demographic demon” balloon and adopts an approach typical of the likes of Yoram Ettinger and Yaakov Feitelson. Since 2005, this team has been following the data independently, and its conclusion is that not only are the Arabs not going to be a majority, but Jewish demography is winning, big time.

With this he refutes the warnings that Jews will become a minority, and contradicts the attempts at fear-mongering warning of the “end of democracy” as a result of Jewish control over an Arab majority, or at least a large Arab minority.

Thanks to the disengagement of 2006, the Arabs of Gaza are not counted as being under Israeli rule. The Palestinian Authority has inflated the numbers of Arabs in Judea and Samaria at an embarrassing level. Jewish birthrates have been in a major upswing while that of Arabs on both sides of the green line have been falling.

Arabs are emigrating from Judea and Samaria to all parts of the world while many Jews are moving to Israel in light of increased anti-Semitism in the west. The basis for Tal’s prediction is these trends, which project a stable Jewish majority with a trend of growth. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief: Iran-Saudi Arabia Tensions ‘Pale in Comparison’ to Islamic Republic’s Takeover of Kurdish Areas in Northern Iraq

While heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia over recent developments in Lebanon and Yemen have been the focus of the international community in the past few days, the Islamic Republic’s takeover of a wide swath of northern Iraq is being overlooked, the editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner said during an appearance on i24 News on Tuesday.

“Iran has very broad regional ambitions,” Dovid Efune told “Clearcut” program host Michelle Makori. “It wants to do what it takes to gain dominance and control over numerous states throughout the region.”

“Its preferred modus operandi is not to engage in all-out conflict with the larger powers in the region, that include Israel and…Saudi Arabia,” he explained. “It works through proxies, like the Houthis in Yemen, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, like the Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq, which has now made incredible movements in the north and taken large pieces of land in the Kurdish region.”

“Frankly,” Efune continued, “the headlines that we’ve seen this week, which have drawn a lot of attention, because Saudi Arabia is speaking about it, and obviously there was the resignation of the Lebanese prime minister, which was quite dramatic, they pale in comparison to actions that Iran is taking on the ground in Iraq to gain control of territory.”

“What we have here is a situation of an empowered Iran, a strengthened Iran, on the march, and the Saudis and their allies in the region, which actually, on this issue, include Israel, would like to do everything they can to push back that belligerence,” he concluded.

Iranian Control of Strategic Kurdish Mountain Poses Serious Threat to Israel, Top Security Official Says

Iranian control of a strategically significant Kurdish area near the border between Iraq and Syria represents a grave security threat to Israel, a senior Kurdish security official told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Iran had coveted the mountainous Sinjar region — which spans from northwestern Iraq into eastern Syria — for “at least ten years.” In 2014, Sinjar was conquered by ISIS terrorists who went on to commit genocide and other war crimes against the region’s ancient Yazidi minority. After ISIS was driven out of the area by Kurdish peshmerga this year, Iranian-backed paramilitaries, among them the Hashd al-Shaabi, the Badr Organization and the Khorasani Brigades, began attacking the Kurds for control of the newly-liberated lands.

The same paramilitaries played a central role in the Iranian-coordinated assault on Kurdistan last month, following a 93 percent vote in favor of independence in the September 25 Kurdish referendum.

The official added that he had received reports claiming the Khorasani Brigades, an Iraqi Shia group affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), were building a “military base” on Mount Sinjar – at 4,800 ft, the region’s highest point. Kurdish media outlets have also reported on a continued stream of Iraqi army officers and Hashd al-Shaabi fighters onto the mountain and in the town of Sinjar beneath it. Hashd al Shaabi’s commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis – designated for terrorism by the US State Department – has been sighted in the area on several occasions.

The area contains several Yazidi holy sites, including the Sharfadin shrine on Mount Sinjar itself. “This is an important place for all of us as Kurds,” the Kurdish official said. “The area is known for its Yazidi population, and there are Muslims and Christians there too. But it is also a place that presents a threat to Israel, and to other countries in the region.”

Calls to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem ahead of New Deadline

A House subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday featuring four speakers in support of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and a fifth who expressed skepticism and urged caution.

The hearing – scheduled and run by Republican lawmakers that have long called for the embassy relocation – comes shortly before a December deadline for US President Donald Trump to decide whether to order the move or else delay it another six months.

A 1995 law requires that the president move the embassy to Jerusalem unless he deems it detrimental to US national security interests. Trump has said he is delaying the move as he explores a potential peace process between Israelis and Palestinians but insists the move is a matter of “when not if.”

One speaker who testified before the panel was Dore Gold, a former top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who highlighted Israel’s protection of holy sites to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

He said that support for the move in Israel is at an “all-time high.”

“They want to put it back on the radar screen when it was taken off the radar screen,” Gold told The Jerusalem Post after the hearing adjourned. “We have an administration that wants to do this. We’re not pulling wisdom teeth— it’s important to clarify this is in the Israeli interest.”

Amb. Dore Gold: Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem: Challenges and Opportunities

Today, I am not going to address the question of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem directly. It is my view that President Donald Trump has made a commitment in that regard and I believe he will stand by what he has said. The United States will evaluate the timing and circumstances for executing that decision in accordance with its interests.

The U.S. will of course have to consider many factors in making that decision. But what is often overlooked in the contentious debate about the location of the U.S. Embassy in Israel is why it matters. The embassy question is a subset of a much more important issue: the need for Western recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That recognition is vital for several reasons.

On a political level, the denial of recognition helps fuel the dangerous fantasy, popular in the Middle East, that Israel is impermanent and illegitimate. On a religious and cultural level, the denial of recognition helps fuel the dangerous fantasy that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem and Israel – that their presence is an imposition because the land is not their homeland.

Those could be characterized as Israeli interests alone. But what I’d like to discuss today is what could be called the international interest, or the interest in Jerusalem of concerned states. That interest often concerns the protection of the holy sites and assuring complete freedom of access to them. Religious freedom and pluralism is a core value which both our countries share.

Protecting Jerusalem’s holy sites is a responsibility that the State of Israel assumed in law back in 1967, when Jerusalem was re-united after the Six-Day War. It is also a responsibility that the people of Israel, I believe, are prepared to assume in the future as well.

For etched into the collective consciousness of all of us is what happened to Jerusalem when we were absent and when we were barred from the city, and what has happened to the holy sites since 1967 – since Israel unified Jerusalem and protected access for all peoples and faiths. What is clear from a brief survey is that only a free and democratic Israel will protect the holy sites of all the great faiths in Jerusalem. Let me stress, to the extent that the U.S. reinforces Israel’s standing in Jerusalem, it is reinforcing core American and Western values of pluralism, peace, and mutual respect – and it is reinforcing the position of the only international actor that will protect Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Prof. Eugene Kantorovich on the transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich spoke in the hearing in congress discussing the benefits and challenges of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem

Trump Admin: ‘No News to Share’ on Promise to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

The Trump administration is remaining quiet on when it will relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem amid growing calls from Congress for the administration to enact the policy President Donald Trump repeatedly promised during the 2016 campaign, according to multiple U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Officials from the White House National Security Council and State Department provided identical statements to the Free Beacon on Wednesday saying there is “no news to share” on when the administration will relocate the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city.

The standstill comes despite renewed congressional interest in the issue ahead of Dec. 1 deadline for Trump to either begin the process of moving the embassy or delay any action for another six months.

While Trump vowed multiple times on the campaign trail to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem—a key priority for the pro-Israel community—as one of his first acts in office, the president decided to formally delay the process as his administration pursues efforts to restart the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Supporters of Israel in Congress appear to have become increasingly frustrated with the Trump administration’s decision to delay the move. The House Oversight Committee’s National Security Subcommittee held a hearing on the matter Wednesday in what insiders said is a bid to show the Trump administration that further delay will not be tolerated by many in Congress.

US expected to pass bill slashing aid to PA over support of terrorists

A congressional bill that would compel the Palestinian Authority to end its compensation program for the families of convicted terrorists in Israel with the threat of an aid cut will reach a critical vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee next Wednesday.

A mark-up vote on the Taylor Force Act is expected to pass with broad bipartisan support, clearing the way for full vote on the House floor.

The Palestinian Authority passionately opposes the bill, claiming that its “martyr” compensation scheme benefits generations of families that include those of legitimate combatants in the Palestinian struggle for independence. Israel argues that the program is a perverse incentive for Palestinian violence against innocent civilians.

In principle, US President Donald Trump and his administration have condemned the program. However, they have stopped short of endorsing the Taylor Force Act, cognizant of PA opposition and the effects its passage might have on their effort to reboot the Middle East peace process.

The bill is named after an American Army veteran murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv last year. If passed, the PA would have to end its compensation program, which provides monthly stipends to Palestinians convicted of murder or terrorism in Israel relative to the length of their prison sentences.

After negotiating some wiggle room into the bill, granting the PA time to phase out the program, Democrats have endorsed the GOP-drafted legislation wholeheartedly. It enjoys support from top Democrats in both the House and the Senate, and the backing of America’s largest Israel advocacy organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Border Walls Are All the Rage Worldwide Because They Work

Until recently, walls and gates were not a common feature in well-to-do American suburbs. Things may be changing in this respect, with the rise of gated community projects. Likewise, the gates of most residential buildings used to remain unlocked or even open during daytime in post WW2 Paris; Parisians had no qualms then about leaving their apartment keys under the doormat. From the 1970s on, new dispensations were introduced: “digicodes” or digital locks became ubiquitous. Paying a visit to friends or relatives in 21st century Paris frequently entails passing through one or several digitally operated gates.

It stands to reason that border barriers and home security are but two faces of the same coin. The true question is how much border barriers help alleviate the burden of security within borders.

In my opinion, the answer is very much.

European nations, and France in particular after the jihadist killing spree of 2015-2016, are learning a lot from Israel. There, comparatively high levels of home security have been achieved without infringing personal liberties or even creating a pervading climate of fear and suspicion.

One important reason for this Israeli success is the implementation of comprehensive networks of border barriers.

Palestinian Propaganda Distributed at U.N. Meeting Calls for Boycotts and Divestment of Israel, Accuses Israel of “Ethnic Cleansing”

Palestinian propaganda accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “Judaizing” Jerusalem was distributed at a UN meeting on “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people.” The material was distributed during a meeting of the UN’s “Special Political and Decolonization” Committee, composed of all 193 UN Member States, on November 7, 2017.

The material also calls for lawfare – the use of international legal institutions to hold Israel “accountable” for spurious claims of violations of human rights or international law. Some of the propaganda calls for divestment from Israel and threatens to “make use of the appropriate mechanisms in order to hold Israel accountable.” Another document, entitled “Israeli Incitement Report,” turns reality on its head and accuses Israel of incitement.

Included in the propaganda:
“Israel has imposed a number of policies and practices aimed at Judaizing the city and annexing it once and for all.”
Israel has “a policy to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian Christian and Muslim identity.”
“…we have a duty to make use of the appropriate mechanisms in order to hold Israel accountable… We will continue to ask the international community to divest from Israel’s occupation.”

Will Iran chair the next UNESCO Executive Board?

A diplomatic battle is under way to prevent Iran’s election to the post of UNESCO Executive Board chairman to replace Michael Worbs of Germany.

Israel has had a contentious relationship with the 58-member board, which in the past has approved resolutions that some say have ignored Jewish ties to Judaim’s holiest site, the Temple Mount.

US and Israeli efforts to block Iran received a boost on Wednesday when the Philippines was one of 27 countries the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s General Assembly elected to a four-year term on the board, effective immediately. Some of those countries are serving their second four-year terms.

In advance of the November 16 election, the board has been split between choosing Iran or South Korea to head the board, but it is possible that the Asia Pacific group will push the Philippines ambassador as a compromise candidate, a diplomatic source speculated in a conversation with The Jerusalem Post.

But the overall make-up of the board with the new members is seen as more hostile to Israel than the previous one.

World’s largest aerial exercise this year takes to Israel’s skies

Close to 100 aircraft, including fighter jets from Germany, and hundreds of support crew from eight nations are taking part in the largest air force exercise ever held in Israel and the biggest in the world to be held this year.

“This exercise is an expression of the ever growing international cooperation we share with our foreign partners,” Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin said.

Crews from the US, Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy are taking part in the two-week Blue Flag drill, honing their skills in planning, targeting and coordinated command and control.

“The countries participating in the drill have understood the regional challenges and understand Israel’s role in the Middle East,” a senior IAF officer told media at Uvda Air Base on Wednesday, adding that this was especially true for countries like Germany, France and India, which are participating for the first time.

“There may not be a current coalition, but we now have the base for one,” he said.

Maj. Hachmeister, the German delegation representative, told The Jerusalem Post that he felt “honored” to be one of the first German pilots to fly in Israel.

He said it was exciting to fly in a multinational drill with non-NATO partners, which gives pilots an opportunity to perform missions they have never done before, adding with a smile that German and Israeli pilots drilled an hour-long dogfight together.

Samaria town recognized – 26 years after its establishment

The Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria issued an amendment to the detailed plan of the town of Rehelim in Samaria, which will take effect within 15 days.

For the first time in the town’s 26 year history, the community of Rehelim will be officially recognized by the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry agency charged with managing Judea and Samaria. The approval for Rehelim and its building plan retroactively authorizes construction which has already been carried out in Rehelim, and allows the building of permanent structures to replace the caravans stationed in the town for more than two decades.

However, the plan does not permit the expansion of the number of housing units in the community, which was established in the year 1990/91 in memory of Rachela Druck, who was murdered in a shooting attack on the way to a demonstration held several months earlier at Malki Yisrael Square in Tel Aviv.

Construction in Rehelim was barred by a court order issued following a petition filed by the left-wing NGO Peace Now in 2009, which forbade all construction until the planning status of the town was settled.

Terror attack thwarted in West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem

A Palestinian man was detained Thursday morning at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Kokhav Ya’akov, situated 15 km north of Jerusalem, after a routine search in the suspect’s bag revealed that he had stashed away two knives and a Quran. The man was arrested and taken to an investigation, where he admitted that he had intended to pass the bag on to another man who planned to carry out a terror attack in the area.

The suspected terrorist was arrested after police received a report about a suspicious-looking individual roaming around the entrance to the settlement. Forces that were dispatched to the scene started chasing after him and managed to stop him before he could flee.

This incident comes after last week’s thwarted terror attack in the settlement of Halamish, when a terrorist tried to run over IDF soldiers in the area and was shot and neutralized at the scene.

Hamas’ moral collapse

The detonation of a terror tunnel last week signaled the collapse of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s strategy of creating mass killing capabilities and taking Israeli communities or individuals hostage in order to free their terrorists and issue unprecedented political and security demands.

The collapse of a number of Hamas tunnels under mysterious circumstances has left many terror organizations in the Gaza Strip with unanswered questions and harmed their members’ sense of personal and operational security. These were direct hits to the hiding places where senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials planned to hide while Gaza’s residents served as their human shields.

The Israeli trifecta of intelligence agents, electronic capabilities and engineering genius spells disaster for Hamas. The terrorist organization’s obstinate decision to dig itself to death, knowing full well the sophisticated obstacle Israel was placing in its path, served to speed up the process.

This was a mortal blow to the subterranean concept the organization adopted in an effort to replicate on a much grander scale the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange. The detonation of the tunnel left the bodies of five senior terrorists as bargaining chips to be used by Israel for the return of the missing Israelis and the bodies of the Israelis soldiers being held by Hamas and put an end to its illusions Israel would free terrorists along the Schalit model.

Abbas says Palestinians ‘stand alongside’ Saudis in face of attacks

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Wednesday with the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Riyadh, telling him that the Palestinian leadership supports Saudi Arabia after a recent missile attack.

“The Palestinian leadership, as well as the Palestinian people, stand alongside the Arab Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the face of attacks,” Abbas said, according to the official PA news site Wafa.

Abbas and the Crown Prince also discussed Palestinian reconciliation, American efforts to move the peace process forward and ways to improve bilateral ties.

The meeting comes a day after the PA president met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, in which similar issues were discussed.

Gaza receives first major PA medicine shipment after eight months

For the first time in eight months, the PA sent a major shipment of government- subsidized medications to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

Many Gazans rely on such medicines.

“Twenty-two trucks of medications were dispatched to Gaza,” Palestinian Authority Health Ministry spokesman Osama al-Najjar told The Jerusalem Post. “This is our first major shipment of medications since February.”

The PA’s last major shipment of medicine to Gaza, which included 27 trucks, took place on February 28.

According to Najjar, since February, the PA has sent only two trucks of medicine on three separate occasions – in March, May and July.

A diplomatic source, familiar with the health sector in Gaza, told the Post that the small territory has been suffering from major shortages of medications.

“Gaza has been dealing with shortages in a number of medications,” he said. “This shipment is very important and will lessen the shortages.”

Congress Pressures Iraqi PM on U.S. Arms Being Used to Target Kurdish Allies

A bipartisan delegation of lawmakers is urging Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take greater action to protect Kurds targeted by Iraqi government-backed security forces in recent weeks, a portion of whom are believed to be under Iranian control and using U.S. weaponry, according to a letter sent to al-Abadi and obtained by the Free Beacon.

The senators, led by Sens. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Tim Kaine (D., Va.), are pressuring al-Abadi to take greater action to protect Kurds, a reliable U.S. ally, who have been pushing controversial plans to pursue independence from Iraq.

The independence referendum has stirred anger among the Iraqi government and appears to have sparked violent clashes earlier this month between Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

The violence comes amid growing concern in Congress that Iranian-backed militias fighting for the Iraqi government are illegally benefiting from U.S. training and arms equipment programs. At least a portion of the attacks on Kurdish forces appears to have been carried out with Iranian coordination.

The violence has become a diplomatic sore point as U.S. officials in the Trump administration continue to maintain that U.S. training, money, and weaponry is not going to Iranian-backed militia fighters, a claim that appears to contradict with direct evidence from the ground.

The senators are urging al-Abadi to take greater steps to remove Iranian-backed forces from disputed territories in Iraq, where they have been working to solidify the Islamic Republic’s foothold on the country.

Saudi urges residents to leave Lebanon as tensions heat up Middle East

Saudi Arabia urged its citizens to leave Lebanon “immediately,” and avoid traveling to the small Middle Eastern state on Thursday. “The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations,” said the statement reported by Al-Arabiya. Bahrain, an ally of Saudi in the Gulf also issued a warning.

Bahrain acting in concert with Saudi Arabia is a reminder that both countries, along with the UAE and Egypt, broke relations with Qatar and expelled Qatari citizens in June. The calls for citizens to leave comes amid a war of words between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Hezbollah, and in the wake of the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Saturday. Hariri has been mum since then, and only seen rarely, leading to rumors he was under house arrest in Saudi Arabia, where he was born and now appears to be staying after his sudden resignation. However, according to Hariri’s own Future Movement party in a tweet on November 9th, Hariri met with the French, US, EU and UK ambassadors to Saudi Arabia.

The recent brewing conflict between Riyadh and Beirut concerns the role of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics. In the last ten years Hezbollah has grown in strength in Lebanon to become the main powerbroker, holding the country hostage to its political whims. This was evident in the struggle for the presidency that left the post open for more than two years until the Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun was elected in October 2016. In a speech on November 5th, after Hariri resigned, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that there were rumors that Saudi Arabia wanted to launch some kind of military operation against Lebanon. According to translated tweets by David Daoud, a research analyst, Nasrallah said it’s not possible for Saudi Arabia to assemble “allied forces to launch an operation against Lebanon.” Lebanon is not Yemen, he pointed out, and Saudi Arabia has no borders with the country. “Saudi Arabia also has to figure out its own future before discussing plans about Lebanon,” he said. Nasrallah also claimed that Israel would not attack Lebanon because “Israel doesn’t work for Saudi” and Israel would launch a quick, decisive war if Hezbollah started a war.

The withdrawal of Saudi Arabia citizens is part of a large decline in the number of Saudi citizens visiting the country. According to a research by Blominvest Bank, the number of Saudis visiting had already dropped by 63% in 2016 to only around 40,000 people. It referenced the existing diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Lebanon. For instance the National reported in 2016 that the UAE issued a travel ban to Lebanon in February of that year and Saudi Arabia had urged citizens to leave the same month, similar to this year’s events.

Taking Saudis’ side, Egypt warns Iran against regional ‘meddling’

Egypt’s president said Wednesday that Iran must stop “meddling” in the Middle East and the security of Arab Gulf countries must not be threatened, but he underscored that he does not want war and believes dialogue can resolve the region’s crises.

With his comments, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi threw his support behind Egypt’s Gulf ally Saudi Arabia amid the kingdom’s mounting tensions with Iran.

But he avoided the increasingly aggressive rhetoric that has come from Riyadh in recent days.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for a missile fired toward its capital by rebels in Yemen and warned that could be considered an act of war. At the same time, Saudi officials accused Iran’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah of “declaring war.”

The kingdom appears to have orchestrated the collapse of Lebanon’s government, which included Hezbollah, by pushing its prime minister to resign.

The Egyptian leader told reporters that he did not want more tensions in the region, but that doesn’t mean threats to Arab countries can be tolerated.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Syrian Refugees Demand Eternal Limbo Like UNRWA Gives Palestinians (Satire)

Former residents of Syria who fled the brutality either of the Assad regime or Islamist militias and now find themselves relegated to tents in the Jordanian wilderness have expressed resentment that the UN agency addressing their plight will try to resettle them elsewhere and afford them a chance to rebuild their lives, instead of keeping them in perpetual statelessness, dependency, and radicalization in the manner of Palestinian “refugees” from 1948.

Increasing numbers of the Syrian refugees have been voicing objection to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in recent months, as they contrast the agency’s treatment of them with that given by a different UN agency to the descendants of Arabs who fled or were expelled from Palestine in the context of Israel’s War of Independence nearly seventy years ago. Whereas most refugees are resettled in new host countries and permitted to start over, the mandate for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees requires that Palestinians on its rolls remain forever stateless.

While other refugees are therefore forced to gain citizenship, develop careers, and exercise autonomy, UNRWA refugees enjoy free health care, free education, and the freedom to nurse a destructive, seven-decade-old grudge against a country whose forces played only a minor role in causing the vast majority of the refugees’ ancestors to leave their homes. In addition, many of the UNRWA refugees, such as in Lebanon and Syria, are barred by local laws from entering most prestigious or lucrative professions, in contrast to other refugees under UN care who must pursue an education, support families, and cope with the myriad burdens of being productive, free, responsible citizens.

“Hey, that’s not fair,” objected Muhammad Chalabi, 45, a father of six originally from a Damascus suburb. “I don’t want to rebuild my life. I want to be like a Palestinian refugee and forever be stuck in a mythic, idyllic past that never existed but was abruptly and brutally rent asunder by usurping colonialists. I want to be able to blame Jews, rather than Arab regimes encouraging Palestinian Arabs to get out of the way of the massacres of Jews they planned, for my misery, and remain unable to move beyond that pathetic limbo for multiple generations.”

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