August 8, 2020

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11/13 Links Pt1: Pipes: Why Palestinian delusions persist; PA textbooks teach “martyrdom as a life goal”

From Ian:

Daniel Pipes: Why Palestinian delusions persist
In 1974, 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army was still fighting for his emperor, hiding in a Philippine jungle. He had rejected many attempts to inform him of Japan’s surrender 29 years earlier. During those many years, he senselessly murdered about one Filipino and injured three others each year. Only a concerted effort by his former commander finally convinced Onoda that the emperor had accepted defeat in 1945 and therefore he too must lay down arms.

The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are Onoda writ large. They formally acknowledged defeat by Israel 24 years ago, when Yasser Arafat stood on the White House lawn and recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.” Trouble was, Arafat himself did not sincerely offer this act of surrender and most Palestinians rejected it.

Accordingly, the war continues, with Palestinians emulating that grizzled, vicious Japanese soldier: They, too, battle on for a failed cause, murder senselessly, and ignore repeated calls to surrender. Just as Onoda insisted on believing in a divine emperor, Palestinians inhabit a fantasy world in which, for example, Jesus was a Palestinian, Jerusalem was always exclusively Islamic, and Israel is the new Crusader state on the verge of collapse. (In this spirit, Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei has helpfully provided the precise date of Sep. 9, 2040, when Israel will vaporize, and his acolytes built a large doomsday clock to count down the days.) Some imagine Israel already gone, with nearly every Arabic map of “Palestine” showing it replacing the Jewish state.

How do Palestinians ignore reality and persist in these illusions? Due to three main factors: Islamic doctrine, international succor, and the wariness of the Israeli security services. (The Israeli Left was once a major factor but it barely counts anymore.)

PMW: Fatah official: Israel has a “fascist governmental plan, typical of Nazism”

In 2013, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), headed by Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub, launched an unfounded attack against the Israeli Football Association (IFA) in FIFA. The PFA claimed that the IFA is in breach of FIFA’s statutes since six of its registered clubs play in what the PFA refers to as “its territory.”

On Oct. 27, 2017, FIFA’s Council rejected Rajoub and PFA’s claim, deciding
[To] “refrain from imposing any sanctions or other measures on either the Israel FA or the Palestinian FA, as well as from requesting any other FIFA body to do so. The matter is declared closed…”
[FIFA Council statement, Oct. 27, 2017]

While not acting on Rajoub’s complaint, FIFA’s council also said it would not act against the PFA. The basis for acting against the PFA was Palestinian Media Watch’s complaint to FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee which provided evidence that the PFA and Rajoub were inciting terror, glorifying terrorists, and promoting racism and Antisemitism.

In response, Rajoub continues to use denigratory and discriminatory language, saying Israel has a “fascist governmental plan… that is typical of Nazism,” in breach of section 58 of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code. Two days after FIFA’s decision, Rajoub said:

“This is a blatant violation when they [Israelis] organize an official [football] league on lands that are not Israeli lands. Even the Israel [Football] Association did not dare to claim: “These lands belong to us.” The one [Israel] who brings in politics and makes sport political is the one who works according to a fascist governmental plan, a government that is typical of Nazism. We have rights, and we will continue to demand them at the FIFA court in accordance with all the laws and regulations, and also the laws of Switzerland where FIFA is located.”
[Official PA TV News, Oct. 29, 2017]

PMW will be submitting another complaint to FIFA against Rajoub’s new breach of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code.

New Palestinian Authority textbooks teach “martyrdom as a life goal”

For years we’ve been covering incitement on the part of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its failure to prepare Palestinian society for a resolution of the conflict via non-violent means.

The PA is viewed by the West as the ‘moderate’ Palestinian body and Israel’s supposed ‘partner for peace’, but as we’ve repeatedly highlighted, its officials routinely demonize Israel and glorify terrorists as national heroes. Young people are exposed to this radicalization, as schools and educational programs justify and condone the use of violence.

The sad reality is that a whole generation of Palestinian children is learning in schools and playing in sports fields and arenas named after mass murders.

Now a new study (also here, if doesn’t open) by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) documents how kids in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas are being further indoctrinated to hate through their schoolbooks.

Like earlier textbooks that were used to teach “over one million impressionable children”, the IMPACT-se report finds that the new textbooks—recently released as part of the PA’s first full reform of the educational curriculum since 2000—are still promoting the demonization of Israel.

But the IMPACT-se assessment also finds that the radicalization is pervasive across this new curriculum—to an even greater extent than before.

Basically, Palestinian children are being groomed to commit to jihad war and to sacrifice themselves to martyrdom.

Melanie Phillips: The signature cause of western progressives purging every Jew from Israel

A conference to support the Palestinian cause was held last month in the Indian city of Hyderabad. Amongst those present was Mahmoud al Habbash, the Palestinian Authority’s chief shari’a justice and religious affairs advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

MEMRI has translated a report in the the Urdu daily Roznama Urdu Times in wihich al Habbash said: “Every Palestinian will continue the struggle till the complete freedom of Palestine. Those who started the movement for the freedom of Palestine took a pledge, while leaving this world, from the next generation that it will continue this struggle until the land of the first qibla [direction of prayer, i.e. Palestine] is purified of the impious existence of Jews.”

As is clear from the rest of his remarks, he was not talking merely about the “West Bank” and Gaza. He meant the whole of Israel would be “purified” of Jews. This man does not speak for Hamas. He is part of the Palestinian Authority, regarded by the west as “moderate”, and religious adviser to Abbas, regarded by the west as a statesman-in-waiting.

Western “progressives” support the Palestinian Authority and support the Palestinan cause. What do they imagine Mahmoud al Habbash means by the world “purified”? How do they think he intends to put that word into practice in Israel? I’ll give them a clue. It will involve, at the very least, a war of annihilation, racist ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

This is what establishing a state of Palestine means to the Palestinian Authority. This is the agenda that western “progressives” not only support but have made into their cause of causes: an agenda which involves the purge of every single Jew from Israel, their own national home.

Melanie Phillips: Our crazy world: The terrifying scale of the threat to the west from Iran

Please join me in this video clip as I lay out for Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network the terrifying scale of the threat to the west from Iran, and the alarming failure of the Trump administration to halt Iran’s progress; even worse, that the US has empowered the regime still further by treating it as an ally.

Melanie Phillips: Our crazy world: The chronic Israeli failure to respond adequately when confronted with the boiler-plate prejudices hurled at them by the belligerent western media.

Please join me in this video clip as I talk to Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network about the chronic Israeli failure to respond adequately when confronted with the boiler-plate prejudices hurled at them by the belligerent western media.

John Bolton: Trump Must Move the Israeli Embassy — Now

Moscow’s frank acknowledgement of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, and the near-total absence of reaction around the world — especially in the Middle East — evidences the reality into which a US decision to relocate its embassy would fall.

If Russia can accept that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital without receiving massive blowback, then surely so can the United States.

The second argument against relocation of the US embassy is that the broader Middle East peace process would be adversely impacted. Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat said last December, for example, that moving the embassy would cause the “destruction of the peace process as a whole.”

Surely, quite apart from being the kind of threat we should treat with disdain, this argument proves too much to swallow. Given the amount of economic and military assistance Washington has supplied to Israel over the years — not to mention huge amounts of private donations and humanitarian assistance from US citizens — American support for the permanence of modern Israel should not be surprising.

If the Middle East peace process is such a delicate snowflake that the US embassy’s location in Israel could melt it, one has to doubt how viable it truly is. This question calls for realism, not the overheated rhetoric we have heard too often.

Washington’s role as honest broker in the peace process will not be enhanced or reduced in the slightest by moving our embassy to Jerusalem. To say otherwise is to mistake pretext for actual cause.

Moving our embassy may produce new talking points for those who have never reconciled themselves to Israel’s existence in the first place, but it will not “cause” any change in the existing geopolitical state of play.

Finally, we hear constantly the argument that concedes an eventual decision to relocate the US embassy in Israel, but pleads that “right now” is not the correct time. This approach argues for a temporary deferral of the move, but curiously, “temporary” deferral has now lasted for nearly 70 years. We hear it still today.

Ambassador Friedman: ‘Moving US embassy to Jerusalem matter of when, not if’

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman lauded the Trump administration and its handling of the US-Israel relationship, while slamming President Obama over his administration’s tacit support for an anti-Israel resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council.

Ambassador Friedman spoke Sunday evening at the Zionist Organization of America’s annual gala in New York City, along with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, casino mogul and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, Senator Tom Cotton (Arkansas-R), former Senator Joseph Lieberman, and ZOA chief Morton Klein.

“We came into office on the heels of perhaps the greatest betrayal of Israel by a sitting president in American history,” said Friedman, “the failure by the United States in the December of last year to veto United Nations Security Council resolution 2334.”

“Imagine, a resolution stating that the Western Wall is illegally occupied territory. And unthinkably, the United States abstained and permitted that resolution to pass. And a day later, the Secretary of State’s attempts to justify this outrage only compounded the problem and revealed a stunning rejection of America’s most important Middle Eastern ally.”

Friedman blasted the Obama administration’s behavior in the lame-duck period from last November through till inauguration day on January 20th as the “dark days”.

‘This was never Palestinian land’

Zionist Organization of America chief Morton Klein ridiculed claims that Israel has ‘occupied’ Judea and Samaria, telling supporters at the ZOA annual gala Sunday night in New York that no Palestinian Arab nation ever existed.

“This was never their sovereign land,” said Klein. “And if it was their sovereign land, how could it be that they would have named it ‘Palestine’ – a Roman name, not an Arab name? We [the ZOA] are the only significant organization making it clear to Congress and the media and in public speeches that there is no ‘occupation’. This is holy Jewish land, it has never been sovereign Arab land.”

In addition, Klein noted, Israel has withdrawn from nearly all Arab population centers in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, granting autonomy to the overwhelming majority, 98%, of Arabs in those areas.

“There are many falsehoods in the world being perpetrated against Israel. I’ll only mention one – besides Apartheid and that Jerusalem is holy to Muslims, a total falsehood – this nonsense of ‘occupation’. Is there really an ‘occupation’ now?”

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan?

Nevertheless, no American or European on the face of this Earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

For now, it appears that the vast majority of Arab regimes no longer care about the Palestinians and their leaders. The Palestinians despise the Arab leaders as much as they despise each other. It is a mutual feeling. The Palestinians particularly despise any Arab leader who is aligned with the US. They do not consider the US an honest broker in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinians, in fact, view the US as being “biased” in favor of Israel, regardless of whether the man sitting in the Oval Office is a Democrat or Republican.

The Saudi crown prince is viewed by Palestinians as a US ally. His close relations with Jared Kushner are seen with suspicion not only by Palestinians, but by many other Arabs as well. Palestinian political analysts such as Faisal Abu Khadra believe that the Palestinian leadership should prepare itself to face the “mysterious” Trump “peace plan.” They are skeptical that the plan would meet the demands of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians appear to be united in rejecting the Trump Administration’s effort to “impose” a solution on them. They are convinced that the Americans, with the help of Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries, are working towards “liquidating” the Palestinian cause. Abbas and his rivals in Hamas now find themselves dreading the US administration’s “peace plan.”

Like lemmings drawn to the sea, the Palestinians seem to be marching towards yet another scenario where they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Iran-backed forces could be 3 miles from Israel under Syria deal — report

Iranian-backed forces in Syria could be left as close as five kilometers to the Israeli border under the terms of a ceasefire agreement hammered out between the US, Russia, and Jordan, according to a report this week. Israel has indicated that it is unhappy with the terms of the agreement.

An Israeli official said that, under the deal, militias associated with Iran would be allowed to maintain positions as little as five to seven kilometers (3.1-4.3 miles) from the border in some areas, Reuters reported Monday.

In other areas, the Iranian-allied forces would be pulled back as far as 30 kilometers from the border, explained the official, who spoke with the news agency on condition of anonymity. The final arrangements will depend on the current positions held by rebel forces fighting against the Assad regime on the Syrian part of the Golan Heights.

According to media reports, the deal applies even to Iranian proxies fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Netanyahu: Israel will act in Syria ‘in accordance with our security needs’

Israel will continue to carry out strikes in Syria despite a United States-Russia ceasefire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday after reports that the deal would allow Iranian troops to remain 5 kilometers from Israel’s border.

Speaking during the weekly Likud partry faction meeting, Netanyahu described Israel’s security policy as “the right combination of firmness and responsibility” and said he has told Moscow and Washington that Israel will continue carrying out strikes in Syria despite the ceasefire agreement “in accordance with our understanding and in accordance with our security needs.”

Netanyahu has publicly criticized the US-Russian ceasefire deal in Syria, saying that it does not include any provisions to stop Iranian expansion near Israel’s northern border. In recent months Israel has held talks with Moscow, Washington and Amman in an attempt to ensure that any agreement will define the buffer zone at least 40 kilometers from the border with the Jewish State.

The border with Syria has been tense since war erupted in 2011, and Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran. Due to these concerns Israel has admitted to carrying out some 100 airstrikes against Hezbollah targets and weapons convoys over the past five years. Dozens more have been attributed to the Jewish State.

Intelligence minister Yisrael Katz reiterated Israel’s red lines on Monday, stating that “Israel has already made it clear that it shall not accept Iran and its affiliates and proxies basing themselves in Syria, which will be a permanent threat and a constant source of tension, friction and instability.”

Saudis told Abbas to accept Trump peace plan or resign — report

Saudi Arabia last week ordered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to either accept an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal being put together by the Trump administration, or resign, according to an Israeli report Sunday.

The Trump administration has begun drafting an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal based on a two-state solution, officials and analysts quoted by The New York Times said on Saturday.

A senior White House adviser said the plan would attempt to tackle controversial issues such as the status of Jerusalem and West Bank settlements.

Abbas was called unexpectedly to Riyadh six days ago by the office of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

There, in addition to being told to “accept Trump’s peace plan or quit,” he was ordered to keep away from any Iranian influence, according to the report on Israel’s Channel 10.

Abbas confidante: Riyadh backs PA president on reconciliation, peace efforts

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman affirmed their support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ position that the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, should be ruled by “one authority, one law and one weapon,” Abbas confidante Ahmad Majdalani said on Monday.

Abbas met Salman And Muhammed bin Salman last week in Riyadh following a short visit to Egypt, where he held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“Saudi Arabia affirmed its support for Palestinian reconciliation and the president’s position that there should be one authority, one law and one weapon,” Majdalani told The Jerusalem Post in a phone call.

In mid-October, Egypt brokered a deal between Abbas’s party Fatah and Hamas to advance reconciliation efforts and restore the PA’s governing authority in Gaza. Hamas has ruled Gaza since ousting the Fatah-dominated PA in 2007 from the territory.

Since Fatah and Hamas signed the agreement, Abbas has said he would not accept any scenario other than the PA taking full control of Gaza including all the weapons there.

JCPA: The PA-Hamas Negotiations: Reconciliation or Complete Disarray

The question is how will the Hamas-Palestinian Authority differences affect the functioning of the crossing, which is Gaza’s main entrance gate and for the moment running smoothly. If the claims of the PA reversing its position are accurate, then the reconciliation measures not only are not improving the situation in Gaza, which is what was supposed to happen, but could be making it worse.

On November 11, 2017, Fatah supporters celebrated the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death – or his “murder” as they see it. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in a recorded speech that was blared through loudspeakers, threw cold water on the hope that the sanctions he imposed on Gaza will be lifted, saying it would happen only after the agreements were fully implemented. He was preceded by the commander of the Ramallah police, who said the crossing could not operate unless Palestinian security personnel were fully deployed in Gaza. Hamas flatly rejects that option.

At present, the organizations affiliated with the PLO are preparing for a meeting in Cairo to approve the reconciliation agreement. It is not clear, however, what constitutes the agreement. The document that was originally signed in Cairo is not an “agreement,” and there is now a dispute over whether earlier agreements signed in 2011 or 2005 qualify as the real agreement.

Trump thanks Netanyahu for supporting UN speech on Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump recently penned a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanking the Israeli leader for supporting his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, in which he warned against the threats posed by Iran and its nuclear program.

Channel 10 News reported that Netanyahu presented the letter at a meeting of senior Likud ministers on Sunday.

“I thank you for your support,” Trump wrote to Netanyahu. “Together, we will confront Iran.”

In the letter, Trump said Israel was “one of the few countries in the world” to support his speech, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Immediately following Trump’s speech, Netanyahu said the new American strategy toward Iran creates an opportunity to amend the nuclear deal and stunt Iran’s efforts to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East.

“Any responsible government or any person who is concerned for the peace and security of the world would do the same thing,” Netanyahu said after Trump’s U.N. address. “President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world.” (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Report: Mexico Will Stop Voting in Favor of Palestinians at UN

Mexico will stop voting in favor of the Palestinians at United Nations institutions, the Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has reported.

According to the report, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso has informed Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Peled of the change.

On all votes regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mexico will either abstain or back the Jewish state’s position, the report said.

The shift was manifested earlier this month by Mexico’s first-ever support for Israel in a UNESCO vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Mexico in mid-September. And later that month, the Israeli military sent an aid mission to Mexico to help in the search-and-rescue efforts following the deadly 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked the central part of the country.

Will changes in Riyadh lead to new era in Israel-Saudi relations?

Even if they aren’t voicing it clearly, Israel and Saudi Arabia are also concerned about Washington’s tendency to continue the gradual process of retreating from the Middle East. The lack of success in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the declining dependence—which was never critical—on regional oil sources, and the very small chance for diplomatic achievements as a result of US initiatives are discouraging American investments in the region.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are concerned about dormant American involvement in Syria compared to Russia and Iran’s active presence. Furthermore, they suspect that Iran is developing a land corridor beyond the Mediterranean Sea, with the help of its allies—mostly Shiites—who control part of this axis.

Lebanon is an integral part of the Iranian plan, and Hezbollah is an essential tool in its implementation. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s resignation should be interpreted against this background. Preventing the creation of an Iranian corridor is a heavy strategic mission, which will be hard to accomplish without American involvement. That can explain the slight warmup in Saudi Arabia’s relations with Russia and the stronger Russian-Israeli dialogue on the Syrian issue.

The Iranian danger alone likely won’t be enough to openly bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer together. Mohammad bin Salman is working on fortifying his inheritance, and it’s unlikely that he wants to expose himself to Arab criticism, especially Iranian, over his “betrayal of the Palestinian people.” A positive Israeli response to the American initiative, once it is formed, might convince him to take the risk.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Right-Wingers Are Meddling In Elections By Getting People To Vote For Them! By Mossi Raz, Chairman, Meretz (satire)

Listen up, people. We’ve got our work cut out for us if we’re going to increase our representation in the next Knesset. You can glory all you want in the manifest rightness of our politics, but we have to face one scandalous fact: the right-wing parties in this country intend to affect the outcome of elections by convincing people to vote for them.

Some of you may find this shocking, but the rest of us who have been in politics a little longer will feel no surprise at the deviousness of those scoundrels. By appealing to the desires and concerns of voters, the parties on the other end of the political spectrum aim to exploit the democratic system for their own gain. For that sake of all that is good and hopeful, we cannot allow that to happen.

Once upon a time, when the Left was in charge and peace reigned, we could afford to ignore the demagogy spewing forth from those… other people. But somehow, a loophole in the laws and regulations covering elections resulted in those parties attracting enough votes to take power and subvert democratic norms. What do such running dogs know of democracy? Who gave them any right to assert that their obviously corrupt worldview should be given any validity or sway? The electorate, unfortunately, does not know how to safeguard against such manipulations. Nor do the authorities. We must remain vigilant against any further attempts to get voters to vote for others.

Report: Islamic Jihad orders ‘immediate attack’ against Israel

Israeli military troops operating overnight in the Palestinian village of Arraba, 11 kilometers (7 miles) southwest of Jenin, arrested Tarek Kaadan, a senior Islamic Jihad field commander in connection to an alleged terrorist plot the Gaza Strip-based group is planning against Israel.

Kaadan was transferred to security forces for interrogation.

The arrest comes two weeks after the IDF destroyed an Islamic Jihad terror tunnel discovered under the Israel-Gaza border. Eleven Islamic Jihad operatives were killed in the operation, including several senior commanders.

Damascus-based Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah has reportedly ordered the al-Quds Brigades, the group’s military wing, to “carry out a terrorist attack against Israel as immediately as possible.”

On Saturday, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai warned Islamic Jihad against retaliating over the tunnel’s destruction.

“We are aware that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is plotting against Israel. It is playing with fire on the backs of the residents of the Gaza Strip and at the expense of the internal Palestinian reconciliation and the entire region,” he said in a video message.

Israel rattled as 7.2-magnitude earthquake strikes northeast Iraq

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake rattled northeast Iraq near the border with Iran on Sunday, killing at least 140 people, with tremors reported in parts of central Israel.

The US Geological Survey said the temblor was centered 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Halabja, near the northeastern border with Iran.

Iranian state media initially reported seven people had died in the quake, but later raised the toll to at least 140.

State television had previously reported six dead in Qasr-e Shirin, close to the Iraqi border, around 40 kilometers southwest of Azgaleh.

Both agencies reported 25 people had been wounded. Those estimated have now beet put at more than 800.

Some Israelis, especially those living on high floors, from Haifa in north to Beersheba and Ofakim in the south and along the coast, including Tel Aviv, reported feeling the tremor.

Israel, rebuffed in past, offers sympathy but no aid to Iran, Iraq after quake

Israel offered sympathy but no immediate assistance to Iran and Iraq to help the countries deal with the aftermath of a destructive earthquake Sunday.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Monday he was unaware of any aid offered to the two countries, neither of which have diplomatic ties with Israel. In fact, Israel considers both Iran, which avowedly seeks Israel’s demise, and Iraq to be “enemy states” and prohibits citizens from traveling there.

“The Home Front Command has not organized a delegation [for Iran and Iraq],” an army spokesperson said.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.

Israeli officials were hesitant to discuss the matter in any depth, refusing to say why no assistance was offered or if the Jewish state would consider sending aid if asked to do so.

In 2003, after an earthquake in the southeastern Iranian city of Bam killed more than 26,000 people, unofficial Israeli sources considered offering aid to the Islamic Republic.

But Tehran’s Interior Ministry said Iran would accept help from all countries except one: Israel. “The Islamic Republic of Iran accepts all kinds of humanitarian aid from all countries and international organizations with the exception of the Zionist regime,” a spokesman said at the time.

Israel bars pro-boycott European group from visiting

Israel announced on Monday it will not allow a group of European officials to visit Israel due to their efforts to promote boycotts of the Jewish state.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced in a statement that he will adopt the recommendation of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to deny entry to the group’s 20 participants, among whom are French parliamentarians and mayors, and members of the European Parliament.

The group was scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas on November 19-23 and had announced that its primary purpose was to visit Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails and offer them support.

Deri said that the group’s members would be refused entry if they landed in Israel, and that he would also notify them in advance in the hope that they will not make the journey at all.

“This is not the first time I have denied entry to BDS activists,” Deri said, “but this time it is a delegation of European officials who are coming in order to work against Israel, which gives [the decision] more weight.”

Israel bars French MPs from visiting jailed terror leader

Israeli authorities said Monday they would bar entry to the country of a group of French politicians seeking to visit jailed terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti.

The decision was part of efforts by Israel’s government to bar supporters of a boycott of the country.

Israel’s interior and public security ministries in a joint statement suggested that the delegation “not fly at all”.

Politicians from France’s Communist party and from the hard-left France Unbowed party, including four parliament members, said they planned to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authorities from November 18-23.

The delegation hoped to meet Barghouti, a prominent Arab leader and prisoner who is serving five life sentences for murder over his role in the murder of 26 people in suicide bombing and shooting attacks during the Second Intifada.

Justice minister hails progress in talks with US on waiving travel visas

An initial deal has been reached with the US, which will likely go into effect within a year or two, to drop visa requirements for Israelis, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced from her Twitter account on Monday.

“We are closing a deal to dispense with the visa requirement,” she tweeted. “Since I entered office, we have worked with the Americans to join the select group of states whose citizens are exempt from having to obtain a visa for entry to the US.”

Shaked explained some of the complex issues she has had to address in an interview with Army Radio.

Part of the agreement with the US includes setting up a process for the US to have access to Israel’s internal database for Israelis suspected of serious crimes in order that they can deny such persons entry.

“The details are complex and the dialogue between the countries has continued for four years, so it will not happen so fast. We need to undertake some legislative amendments, so it could be drawn out over another year or two, by my estimate,” she told Army Radio.

Explaining that the US wanted full access to Israel’s fingerprints database, she said that Israel had declined that much access, but that in its place, Israel would quickly provide information about persons suspected of serious crimes.

Amid war of words, IDF nabs top Islamic Jihad official in West Bank

Israeli forces arrested a top commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in the West Bank early Monday morning, a day after Jerusalem warned the group amid rising tensions over Gaza.

The Shin Bet security service confirmed that Tariq Qa’adan was picked up by the Israel Defense Forces in Arrabeh, southwest of Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Qa’adan serves as a senior officer in the Gaza-based terror group’s West Bank wing, the Shin Bet said.

A Shin Bet official said Qa’adan was arrested “for being a member of a terrorist group.”

IDF soldiers also arrested 13 other Palestinian suspects in overnight raids in the West Bank, the army said.

Qa’adan’s arrest came two days after Israel released a stern warning to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, saying that it was aware the terror group was planning to carry out an attack in retaliation to the IDF’s demolition of one of its attack tunnels that crossed from Gaza into Israeli territory last month.

Israel arrests senior Palestinian Authority security official

Israeli security forces arrested a senior Palestinian Authority security official on Friday for sending his forces into east Jerusalem to carry out arrests, an Israeli security official said on Sunday.

The security official named the PA security official as Ali Qaimiri, who serves as head of the PA Police in the Jerusalem outskirts and holds the rank of colonel.

“[Qaimiri] sent his forces into east Jerusalem to carry out arrests of blue-ID card holders,” the security official said, referring to Palestinian residents who hold Israeli residency cards.

The official declined to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Qaimiri’s case, stating that an “investigation is ongoing.”

A PA security official confirmed that Israel arrested Qaimiri near Gush Etzion on Friday evening and subsequently transferred him to a jail in downtown Jerusalem.

The official added that Qaimiri was scheduled to appear before an Israeli court on Monday.

Hebron brothers get life in prison for sniper spree

A military court on Sunday sentenced two Hebron brothers to life in prison for a series of sniper attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank, the army said.

From November 2015 to January 2016, Nasser and Akram Badawi committed a number of shooting attacks in Hebron and the surrounding area, injuring two civilians and two IDF soldiers.

They were arrested by Israeli security forces in January 2016 and convicted of 12 counts of attempted murder, as well as other security violations. According to the Shin Bet security service, the younger brother, Nasser, is a member of Hamas,

In addition to their life sentences, the Badawi brothers were ordered to pay a total of NIS 60,000 ($17,000) to their victims, the army said.

On November 6, 2015, Nasser and Akram met on the third floor of a building owned by their father near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. From that vantage point, Nasser, 23, and Akram, 33, fired into a group of Jewish Israelis who were praying near the holy site, injuring two of them, one seriously and the other lightly.

Illegal Arab neighborhood to be leveled – with explosives

The City of Jerusalem, in conjunction with Israeli security forces, is planning a massive demolition operation against an illegal neighborhood on the northern edge of the city.

According to a report by Kan 11 Sunday night, the Jerusalem municipality is taking aim at six illegally-built high-rise apartment buildings in the village of Kafr Aqab, which sits inside the municipal boundaries of the capital.

Kafr Aqab, while under full Israeli sovereignty and nominally under the authority of the City of Jerusalem, is outside of the security fence around the city and remains largely beyond the reach of Israeli law enforcement officials. Building violations are common in Kafr Aqab, and city officials say the six-building neighborhood targeted for demolition was built with no authorization whatsoever.

The six apartment buildings slated for demolition are all six stories or taller, and include a mosque built housed in a unit of one of the buildings.

The demolition will be carried out in a joint operation between city officials, Israel Police, the IDF, and the Shin Bet internal security agency. The buildings are slated to be levelled in a series of controlled explosions so powerful, hundreds of residents of other buildings in the area will have be evacuated as a security precaution.

Sources told Kan 11 that the plan has been promoted by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Hamas official: The Oslo Accords are dead

Mousa Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas’s political bureau who is one of the most senior members of the organization, said on Sunday that the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993 are long dead and that all existing arrangements have nothing to do with those accords.

In an interview with the Arab21 website, Abu Marzouk rejected the claims against Hamas that under the reconciliation initiative with Fatah, the movement relinquished its basic principles.

“The claim that we agreed to a Palestinian state as a step towards national consensus, the establishment of a Palestinian state in the (West Bank) and the (Gaza) Strip with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, the return of the Palestinian refugees and the removal of the settlements from the West Bank – we agreed to all these things as a gradual program with a national consensus,” he said.

Abu Marzouk rejected the demand of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas that the armed militias in Gaza disarm, saying, “The resistance is the right of the Palestinian people and the right of all the resistance organizations, and on this basis we say that the weapon of the resistance will not be included in the issues (in the framework of the reconciliation talks with Fatah).”

Lebanese PM hints of return, warns of sanctions over Hezbollah

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who announced on Nov. 4 from Saudi Arabia that he was quitting as Lebanon’s prime minister, suggested on Sunday he could rescind his resignation.

Speaking from Riyadh in an interview with Future TV, a station affiliated with his political party, Hariri said he planned to return to Lebanon to confirm his resignation in accordance with the constitution. But he also said that if he rescinds his decision to quit, the Hezbollah movement must respect Lebanon’s policy of staying out of regional conflicts.

Hariri further warned on Sunday Lebanon was at risk of Gulf Arab sanctions because of the Shiite group Hezbollah’s regional meddling and said he would return to Lebanon within days to affirm he had resigned as the country’s prime minister.

In a television interview, the Saudi-allied Hariri held out the possibility he could yet rescind his resignation if Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen, his first public comments since he read out his resignation on television from Riyadh eight days ago.

He indicated the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese in the Gulf could be at risk, as well as trade, vital to the stability of the Lebanese economy.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hezbollah Stockpiling Advanced Thoughts And Prayers To Use Against Israel (satire)

Observers of Middle East arms movements have noticed an ongoing effort by the Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon to augment its arsenal with thoughts and prayers, an article in Jane’s reports.

In addition to Iran-supplied missiles and munitions, the article claims, the movement that effectively controls Lebanon has spent the last several years pursuing an overhaul of its thoughts and prayers inventory to bring the stockpile up do date with the latest versions of thoughts and prayers. State-of-the-art thoughts and prayers have attracted increasing attention during that time as they are deployed again and again to counter shooting attacks and other massacres across the US, and Hezbollah seeks to avail itself of the relatively inexpensive technology.

“Thoughts and prayers are the most common countermeasures to bullets, explosives, or automotive impact,” the article quotes analyst Wil Wheaton as saying. “You can see American output of thoughts and prayers spike in the aftermath of various attacks, as efforts are made to mitigate the damage of an attack and to prevent further such violence. Hezbollah, evidently, has witnessed that development and seeks whatever small advantage it can get against Israel’s military might in any future war.”

Not every expert agrees Hezbollah would be able to wield thoughts and prayers to its advantage, the article notes. “Israel and its supporters have had a robust thoughts and prayers network in place for decades,” it reports. The article then cites multiple analysts who contend that moreover, the thoughts and prayers of hundreds of millions of Muslims, five times per day, have so far failed to affect Israel’s superiority. “In fact as the thoughts and prayers of Muslims have grown more numerous with the increase in Muslim populations since 1948, Israel has grown steadily more powerful, calling into question the capacity of Israel’s Muslim enemies to deploy thoughts and prayers with any effectiveness,” Jane’s writes.

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