July 7, 2020

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12/13 Links Pt1: Israel foils Hamas kidnapping plot planned for Hanukkah; Saeb Erekat checks into an Israeli hospital; When lifesavers opt for death


From Ian:

Israel foils Hamas kidnapping plot planned for Hanukkah
Israeli security services arrested three members of an alleged Hamas terrorist cell in the northern West Bank suspected of planning to kidnap an Israeli citizen during the Hanukkah festival, the Shin Bet security service announced Wednesday.

The three Palestinian suspects were arrested in late October, following a weeks-long investigation during which the Shin Bet, Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police uncovered the kidnapping plot. Details of the case were kept secret under a gag order, which was removed on Wednesday as the findings were handed over to state prosecutors to begin preparing indictments.

The Shin Bet said the alleged ringleader of the terror cell was Mu’ad Ashtiyah, a 26-year-old Palestinian from the village of Tell, near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

He recruited cousins Mahmoud and Ahmad Ramadan, both 19 and also of Tell, to assist him in the plot, the security service said.

According to the Shin Bet, the three men planned to “kidnap a soldier or settler from one of the bus stations at a central junction in Samaria” — the biblical term for the northern West Bank.

When lifesavers opt for death

On Monday, two days of ongoing violent riots erupted near Ramallah in which rioters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at IDF forces. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit published footage of a Red Crescent ambulance helping transport rioters, disguised as wounded, to the demonstration. The ambulances unloaded the masked, fake wounded at the heart of the riots. Wrapped in Palestinian flags, the passengers joined their brothers in hurling rocks at our soldiers. All this took place under the auspices of an organization that is supposed to save human lives and help the wounded and injured, not give rides to terrorists who are looking to vent their spleen at IDF troops.

This wasn’t the first time that the Red Crescent has lent its hand to violence and terrorism. Two years ago, Yaakov and Netanel Litman were shot to death in a terrorist attack near Otniel. Dvir Litman, 16, was sitting in the front seat and watched helplessly as his father and brother bled out. A passing Red Crescent ambulance completely ignored their calls for help. The ambulance driver approached the site of the attack, told the Litmans to “call 101 [the number for Magen David Adom],” and drove off.

Immediately after the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Foreign Ministry to demand that the Red Crescent explain why it abandoned wounded Jews, in violation of all humane and cultural norms, and threatened that Israel would take appropriate action against the Red Crescent. Not much has happened.

The Red Crescent is known for its willingness to volunteer its ambulances to hide and transport terrorists and weapons to be used in terrorist acts. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has reported how it used an ambulance packed with explosives to carry out a terrorist bombing; in March 2002, an ambulance was stopped at an IDF checkpoint south of Ramallah. Underneath a stretcher carrying a sick child, soldiers found an explosives belt and bombs. The driver was Islam Jibril, a Tanzim fugitive who had joined the Red Crescent as a driver. In June of that same year, a doctor at a Jenin hospital was arrested after he was enlisted by Hamas to smuggle suicide bombers into Israel. When interrogated, he admitted that he had also smuggled weapons using ambulances.

So you think anti-Zionism is different than anti-Semitism?

The flourishing ‘Hebrew Spring’

The Arab Spring, which erupted seven years ago in a wave of region-altering revolutions, was unlike the Prague Spring in the 1960s that injected Czechoslovakia with a spirit of political liberalization. The Arab Spring essentially failed to bring democracy and liberty to the Arab world, despite the masses in the streets demanding change in the hope of ending the decadeslong iron-fisted rule of tyrannical regimes.

In most of these countries, the situation today is worse than it was before the outbreak of demonstrations. The Arab Spring deepened the rifts within Arab society, widened the chasm between religious and secular, and certainly between Shiites and Sunnis. Many in the Arab world, including senior journalists and pundits, accuse Israel of purposefully derailing the Arab Spring, in order to forge alliances with Arab leaders against the will of the people.

Instead of Arab Spring, a different term has made the rounds in recent months in the Arab media: The “Hebrew Spring,” referring to Israel’s warming ties with Arab countries and the marginalization of the Palestinian issue.

To be sure, a plethora of signs is pointing to the existence of this Hebrew Spring. In August, Sudanese Investment Minister Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi voiced his support for normalization with Israel. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain condemned the Arab boycott against Israel and said citizens of his country were permitted to visit the Jewish state (indeed, a delegation of 24 clerics is currently on a historic visit). There have been public reports that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has met openly with the Israeli prime minister and the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia issued a religious decree forbidding the murder of Israelis. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot was even interviewed by a Saudi news site.

PA’s anti-Israel spokesman seeks treatment in Israeli hospital

A senior Palestinian Authority negotiator and a perennial critic of Israel was spotted recently at an Israeli hospital.

Saeb Erekat earlier this year blasted US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for claiming that Jewish communities built in beyond the pre-1967 Green Line were part of Israel, including Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

Erekat, who serves as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) secretary general and has served as the PA’s senior negotiator, has also accused Israel of “war crimes”, “massacres”, and “genocide”.

In 2013, Erekat accused Israel of applying a policy of apartheid in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Despite his accusations of Israeli “genocide”, the senior PA official nevertheless checked in to an Israeli hospital recently, and was spotted Monday night as he was taken in for a CT scan.

In a report by Channel 20, Erekat was seen in Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Medical Center. Hospital officials confirmed that Erekat had checked into the hospital for treatment.

Erekat, 62, recently underwent a lung transplant in the United States after he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a respiratory disease caused by the formation of scar tissue inside the lungs. As the scars form, breathing becomes increasingly difficult and painful, and the lungs less able to bring oxygen into the body. This in turn often results in heart failure.

MEMRI: Senior Egyptian Journalist Calls For Jihad Against Israel In Response To Trump’s Recognition Of Jerusalem As Its Capital

Following the December 6, 2017 announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,[1] the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm published an article by senior journalist Muhammad Amin, formerly chairman of the board of the newspaper, in which he criticizes the Arabs who, he says, are protesting against Trump’s decision only on social media and aren’t doing anything beyond that.

In the article – headlined “Where are the Millions?” which is also the title of a popular song[2] from the period of the first intifada exhorting Palestinians to join in the violence against Israel – Amin calls on jihadi activists to express their anger until “Israel doesn’t sleep and Trump regrets his decision and reneges.”

The following are translated excerpts from Muhammad Amin’s article[3]:
“The scenarios [as to] what would happen if Trump decided to move the embassy to Jerusalem were known and calculated in advance. As far as Israel and the Americans were concerned, the story was known – the Arabs would change their [profile] pictures on Facebook, sing, write protest songs, and publish condemnations [and that’s all]…

“In fact, the young Arabs wrote ‘Jerusalem is Arab,’ on social media, added a Palestinian keffiyeh to the photographs, posted them, and urged others to post them [as well]. Some tweeted against Trump’s decision and called him crazy, and some shared the song ‘Where are the Millions? Where? Where is the Arab People? Where is the honor, where?’ Everyone joined in the song… That was the expectation and those are exactly the scenarios that occurred!

“I know that some [people] don’t [have the ability to do] anything other than to change their profile [picture]… to sing or to write poetry and put it to music. That is also a kind of [expression] of anger, but it doesn’t concern the White House and it remains within the safe boundaries [of protest].

Douglas Murray: Sadiq Khan should tell Trump the truth about multicultural London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, likes to make a stand. Specifically he likes to present himself (and the city in which he has been elected Mayor) as an antidote to global concerns about immigration, human unpleasantness in general and Donald Trump in particular. For instance, on the BBC on Sunday morning he explained his opposition to President Trump receiving a state visit to the UK. Though he added:
‘If [Trump] wants to meet with the Mayor of London, of course I’d be happy to meet with him and show him parts of London where Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, members of organised faiths and those that aren’t, don’t just tolerate each other but respect, celebrate and embrace each other. I think we can be a beacon, not just to the president of the USA but to the rest of the world as to how we should do things.’

Given Mayor Khan’s eagerness to beat down any and all examples of bigotry and his specific and oft-repeated claims that London is something of a light unto the nations, I cannot understand why he has not gone out to campaign about events I described here a couple of days ago. That is the racist chanting by a crowd at a demonstration in London last Friday night.

It’s very easy to talk about how Buddhists live alongside Muslims, and Jews live alongside Christians. Kumbaya etc. But if you’re going to indulge in that sort of chat, oughtn’t a responsible politician also add something like, ‘Although on Friday night, in the centre of London, we also saw a crowd of Muslims chanting for the death of Jews.’ I cannot see why not. It gives a more rounded, honest and fuller picture of the real situation in 21st Century London. I cannot see why Mayor Khan wouldn’t be willing to include such details in his paeans to multicultural London. And also condemn the crowds involved in such racist abuse in his own city in terms at least as vehement as those he saves for presidential Tweets

Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem reflects Sunni Arab-Israeli understanding

President Donald Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem is a milestone in the history of the Jewish state. Yet it is also important for the reactions it elicited in the Middle East, which indicate how much the array of forces in the region has radically changed since the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, and with even greater rapidity after the “Arab Spring.”

That the strongest reactions emanated from Iran and Turkey rather than from Arab states or even segments of Palestinian society reflects the centrality of the Iranian-Arab conflict compared to the former Israeli-Arab divide, the importance of the renewed imperialist ambitions of two former regional imperial powers, Iran and Turkey, at the expense of their Arab neighbors and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The most dramatic headline, “Death to Israel,” was perhaps the most telling. This widely cited headline appeared in al-Mayadin, a Hezbollah media site that like Hezbollah itself is beholden to Iran. The crucial difference between Hezbollah and al-Mayadin is that the former sent its troops for over five years to fight Iran’s battle to save the Assad regime in Syria, while al-Mayadin minces words on Iran’s behalf. Iran’s imperialist reach is reflected in both by its homage to the leading religious and political figures of the Iranian revolution, and above all to its architect, Ruholla Khomeini. These icons are never featured as such by Sunni Arab political sites.

Tellingly, “Death to Israel” was not part of the rhetorical repertoire of any of the sites linked to the Arab states or even to the Palestinian Authority. Nor did any of the Sunni Arab states threaten, as did Turkey, to break diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Tillerson says US embassy unlikely to move to Jerusalem before 2020

Relocating the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will likely take at least three years, and quite possibly longer, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday.

“It’s not going to be anything that happens right away,” Tillerson said in a speech at the State Department, reported upon by the New York Times. “Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.”

Tillerson said last week that the planned move would likely take several years.

“This is not something that is going to happen this year or probably not next year but the president does want us to move in a very concrete, very steadfast way to ensure the embassy is located in Jerusalem when we’re able to do so, at the earliest possible time,” Tillerson said on Friday.

Listing the steps involved in moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, Tillerson said the United States needed to acquire a site, develop plans, receive congressional authorization for the spending, “and then actually building the embassy.”

Merkel Condemns “All Forms of Antisemitism,” Fails to Address Muslim Jew-Hatred in Germany

After two days of silence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned antisemitic demonstrations that took place in Germany during the weekend. “We oppose all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia.” she told reporters on Monday. “The state has to use all available legal measures” against such acts, she added.

Merkel’s condemnation failed to address the issue of the Muslim demonstrators shouting “death to Jews” and “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is coming again” in Arabic — alluding to the annihilation of the Jewish population of Khaybar, an oasis in Saudi Arabia, at the hands of Muhammad and his conquering army. The main demonstration took place at Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gates, just a stone’s throw away from the Holocaust Memorial.

“It’s shameful when such open hatred of Jews is on display on the streets of German cities,” said Government spokesman Steffen Seibert, also refraining to specify the culprits. “Our laws on freedom of expression and assembly guarantee everyone a right to peaceful protest, but this right is no free pass for anti-Semitic atrocities, for incitement and violence,” he added.

Members of Merkel’s cabinet and Germany’s public broadcasters remained focused on the burning of Israeli flags during the weekend demonstrations, but skirted away from mentioning the rising of antisemitic death chants, let alone identity of the miscreants involved.

While Chancellor Merkel promised to “use all available legal measures”, the leading German newspaper Die Welt reported that no action was being taken against those who chanted “death to Jews” in Berlin over the weekend, claiming the local police were ‘helpless’.

“The fundamental right to freedom of protest is paramount. Offenses of considerable extent must take place [for the police] to break up the gathering,” said spokesperson for the Berlin Police, Thomas Neuendorf.

Some seven decades after the Holocaust, public calls for the exterminating Jews apparently do not count as offenses of “considerable extent” in Germany anymore.

Arab Migrants Arrested over Swedish Synagogue Firebombing

Police in Sweden arrested two Syrian men and one Palestinian man in connection with the recent firebombing of a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

On Saturday, a group of 20 masked men fire-bombed a Jewish place of worship in Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg. The attackers hurled several Molotov cocktails at the synagogue during a youth prayer service. Children sought refuge in a cellar during the attack. No injuries were reported.

Swedish news website Local covered the Swedish police investigation into the attack:
Police held three suspects hours after Saturday’s attack. Two of the men will appear at a remand hearing on Wednesday to face allegations of aggravated arson. The third has been released, but is still under suspicion.

“The investigation is moving forward. New things are emerging. There is a lot to do, but a lot will happen in the coming week,” prosecutor Stina Lundqvist told news agency TT.

The three men – who deny the allegations – are aged 18, 20 and 21. Two of them are understood to be from Syria and one from Palestine and arrived in Sweden “in recent years…”

The incident in Gothenburg was followed by another firebombing, this time targeting a Jewish chapel in the city of Malmo. According to the media reports, Molotov cocktails were thrown at the building but it didn’t suffer any major damage.

Abbas says no future US role in peace process, threatens to void past agreements

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that Palestinians won’t accept any future role for the US in the peace process due to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and threatened to pull out of existing agreements with the Jewish state.

Abbas told an emergency meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul that there could be “no peace or stability” in the Middle East until Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Turkey is hosting the 57-member OIC in the wake of the US decision — a move widely criticized across the world but hailed by Israel. The summit is expected to forge a unified position of Arab and Muslim countries.

“Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state… There will be no peace, no stability without that,” Abbas proclaimed.

He slammed Trump’s declaration as a “crime” and a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” — as if he “were giving away an American city” — and asserted that Washington no longer had any role to play in the peace process.

Hamas: We will liberate Palestine from ‘filthy occupation’

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas’s political bureau and one of the leaders of the terrorist organization, spoke at a ceremony in memory of two Hamas terrorists killed in an IDF attack a few days ago.

In his speech, Zahar said that Hamas would continue the path of resistance “in order to liberate every inch of Palestine from the filth of the occupation.”

“The promise of Allah will come true in the security system of the world to come, in which Al-Quds is linked to the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Zahar was quoted as saying by the Hamas-affiliated Palestine newspaper.

In a message to Israel, Zahar said, “Beware of the power of Hamas and the power of the [Al-Qassam] Brigades.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, he said, “does not understand the course of history and the instructions of Allah, and he openly fights us. But we tell him that the promise of Allah will come in the world to come.”

In reference to the stalled reconciliation initiative with Fatah, Zahar said that “reconciliation does not mean that we will give up on even one inch of Palestine and does not mean that we will give up one of the rifles of the Al-Qassam Brigades.”

Jordan: Judaizing Jerusalem will bring violence and extremism

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Wednesday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II rejected President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordering the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“There will be no peace in the region unless a Palestinian state is created and its capital is eastern Jerusalem,” he said. “US President Donald Trump’s announcement is dangerous. Attempts to Judaize Jerusalem and to change its identity will bring additional violence and extremism.”

Separately, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told Saudi Arabia’s Consultative Council, “The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

Last Wednesday, Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plans to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Saudi king: Palestinians have right to East Jerusalem as capital

Palestinians have the right to East Jerusalem as their capital, Saudi King Salman said Wednesday, echoing calls at an Islamic summit in Istanbul from which he had stayed away.

“The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the king said.

Salman did not spell out whether that meant Saudi support for an Israeli capital in West Jerusalem.

The king’s remarks came at the opening of the annual Consultative Council meeting in Riyadh, as the world’s main pan-Islamic body held an emergency summit in Istanbul in response to the Trump administration’s recognition last week of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its declaration of intent to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Salman renewed his condemnation of Trump’s decision, saying it “represents an extreme bias against the rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem that have been guaranteed by international resolutions.”

African National Congress to Push for Shutdown of South African Embassy in Israel at Major Party Conference

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is pushing for a major downgrade of the country’s full diplomatic relations with Israel ahead of its key national conference later this week.

Delegates to the five-day meeting — which begins on Saturday in the province of Gauteng — will vote on a motion that could result in the complete severing of diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. The motion, which originated in a call from the ANC’s Western Cape branch in January 2017 to reduce relations with Israel, is said by local analysts to have picked up steam over the last week, following the Trump administration’s decision recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The week before the American announcement, Jessie Duarte — deputy general-secretary of the ANC — stated in an article for a local news outlet that as “the ANC … prepares for its National Conference, South Africa’s future relations with Israel hangs (sic) in the balance and rightly so.”

“For over two decades, South Africa has pleaded with Israelis and worked with them, together with local groups, to ensure that injustices do not continue,” Duarte wrote on November 27. “Yet these have gone on unabated and Palestinians are continually denied the right to return and to declare a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

India, China and Russia Refrain from Seeking East Jerusalem as Palestinian Capital

India, Russia and China refrained from seeking East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine after foreign ministers of the three countries met in New Delhi on Monday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj hosted her Russian and Chinese counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi for the 15th annual meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) in New Delhi.

The joint statement issued after the meeting called for “negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel within mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders”. It, however, did not have any reference to East Jerusalem.

The last RIC joint statement issued after the 14th meeting of the foreign ministers of the three nations in Moscow in April 2016 had categorically called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of the future state of Palestine.

The move by Russia, India and China to drop the reference to East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine came just days after US President Donald Trump formally recognised the ancient holy city as the capital of Israel.

The US move evoked sharp criticism not only from Arab world, but also from Europe and many other nations. Trump also set in motion a plan to shift the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

EU Foreign Policy Chief: Israelis and Palestinians should share Jerusalem

After stating for a week that the final status of Jerusalem should be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in direct negotiations, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs said on Tuesday that she has committed to the Palestinian Authority she will work toward its division.

The EU’s Federica Mogherini said she “guaranteed” in a phone call with PA President Mahmoud Abbas that Europe would work to ensure the city is shared by Israel and Palestinians in a future two-state solution. That position is a welcome one to the Palestinians, but a challenge to Israel, which insists the city will remain its undivided, eternal capital.

“Last week I spoke with President Abbas and guaranteed that the European Union would continue to work for Jerusalem to be the capital of both the state of Israel, and a state of Palestine,” Mogherini said. The EU embassy in Jerusalem noted to The Jerusalem Post that Mogherini was stating the organization’s longstanding position on the city.

“Our partners know very well where we stand, and we have made it very clear,” Mogherini said. She consulted with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser leading the Trump administration’s Middle East peace initiative, in recent days.

‘We swear to break your necks and shed your blood’: Trump and Netanyahu kneel before jihadist executioner in Jerusalem in latest ISIS propaganda vowing lone wolf attacks in US

ISIS fanatics have threatened to carry out lone wolf attacks on America in chilling new propaganda circulating online.

In one poster, US President Donald Trump and Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu can be seen dressed as prisoners and kneeling before a jihadist executioner in front of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The picture comes with the warning: ‘O Jews and worshippers of the Cross. We swear to break your necks and shed your blood in Alaqsa front yard and everywhere else, this is the promise of Allah and we will make it come true. Beware. The coming will be the most terrible and bitter.’

A separate set of images shows flames engulfing the US Capitol building in Washington DC and an extremist with a handgun in California.

Terminology Matters!

The Daily Mail, in a recent story, wrote:

For obvious reasons, the IDF would never reference “Palestine” in any of its communications.

In addition, Israel and the IDF always make sure to differentiate between the Palestinian population at large and terrorist groups. It is clear that the IDF held Hamas responsible for the violence and not Palestinians in general.

We contacted the Daily Mail, which corrected the error.

The sentence now reads: “The Israeli Defence Force said in a statement: ‘The IDF views the shooting at Israeli communities severely. Hamas is solely responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip.’”

Meanwhile, the Daily Express writes:

Netanyahu told Macron he’d make ‘concessions’ within Trump peace plan — report

During their talks in Paris on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Emmanuel Macron that he would be prepared to make “compromises and concessions” to the Palestinians within the framework of US President Donald Trump’s much-touted Middle East peace plan, Israel’s Channel 10 TV news reported on Tuesday.

The report, which quoted unnamed senior European diplomats familiar with the content of the two men’s discussions, was denied by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Channel 10 quoted brief excerpts from what it said were exchanges between Netanyahu and Macron in Paris on Sunday, and between Netanyahu and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels on the following day.

At their Elysee Palace meeting, according to the report, Macron said to Netanyahu, “Trump told me that, within a few months, he will set out a peace plan that will be different from previous initiatives. It will be a move that will shake up the status quo.”

Labor hopeful says Israel should ‘kick out’ Palestinians in future war

Appearing to call for ethnic cleansing, a retired IDF general seeking to become a key figure in the left-leaning Labor party said that if the Palestinians continue to violate their agreements with Israel, the military should “tear them apart” in a future war and forcibly transfer them to “the other side of the Jordan River.”

Amiram Levin criticized longstanding left-wing policies, espoused the expansion of Jewish settlements and called for the rejection of the 1967 borders, in excerpts published Wednesday from an interview with the Maariv daily set to appear on Friday.

“The Palestinians caused the occupation. They didn’t accept the borders of the partition plan [after the 1948 War of Independence], and they started the war [of 1967]. We were right to take Judea and Samaria,” he said, referring to the West Bank.

US-Saudi alliance: The pessimist’s view

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s growing role as defense minister and the king’s representative on most official matters may be a legitimate cause for optimism. His ascent to the throne may overturn 70 years of false prophecies from The New York Times regarding the prospects for Saudi liberalization. And all the legitimate skepticism about Saudi Arabia may yet be dispelled. For all we know, the crown prince may yet turn out to be the great visionary leader who will fulfill the Vision 2030 plan, liberalize and modernize the country, and bring much-needed progress and direction to his country, which some see as a failed state.

The United States, however, would do well not to put all its eggs into one basket, just in case progress takes longer than predicted and the obstacles in the crown prince’s path are greater than foreseen.

Even if all the relevant parties mean well and work hard to bring about a historic alliance against the Iranian threat and toward stabilization in the Middle East, there are a number of factors to watch out for.

First, there is something to be said for clear goals, well thought out strategies, and managed expectations. Beating back Iranian expansionism and destroying Hezbollah seem like fine objectives but they are rather vague. For now, the U.S. is still figuring out what are its goals. And the actions taken or not taken by the U.S. say much more about U.S. intentions for the near future than all the proclamations of joint commitment. The U.S., for instance, supplies the Lebanese Air Force with increasingly sophisticated weaponry, despite the concerns that Hezbollah benefits from this bounty.

The U.S. has taken no meaningful action to roll back Iran-backed aggression in Iraq or Syria, although National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster’s new National Security Strategy promises to address that.

Trump honored with Friends of Zion Museum award in White House ceremony

US President Donald Trump received the Friends of Zion Award from the founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, Dr. Mike Evans, in a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.

The event was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and faith leaders representing more than 150 million Christians globally.

“No president in history has ever built such an alliance for the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and no president has courageously stood up for the State of Israel on the global stage as you had Mr. President,” Evans declared at the ceremony. “President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem will secure his place in history as the first American president to take that step since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.”

The Friends of Zion Award was previously been bestowed on world leaders such as president George W. Bush, Prince Albert II of Monaco and president Rosen Plevneliev of Bulgaria. Evans presented those awards together with the late president Shimon Peres, former chairman of the Friends of Zion Museum, to honor their courageous support of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

The Friends of Zion Heritage Center has become one of the central institutions in the State of Israel, influencing the world and strengthening Israel’s relations globally while fortifying the pillars of the State of Israel.


United States Vice President Mike Pence will visit the Western Wall on Sunday soon after arriving in the country for a two day visit, sources familiar with details of his trip confirmed on Wednesday.

The visit to the site will come seven months after US President Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the site. Trump visited the Western Wall with his family, but was not accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a move interpreted as an effort by the US not to appear to be conferring recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Old City.

Diplomatic sources said that it is unlikely that Netanyahu will accompany Pence to the Wall.

Even though Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, Trump made clear that he was not taking a stand on the future borders of the city.

Pence will not, however, be meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem as planned following Trump’s announcement.

“There will not be a meeting with Pence. The matter is bigger than a mere meeting because the United States, in its decisions on Jerusalem, crossed redlines,” Majdi al-Khalidi, Abbas’s diplomatic affairs adviser, told official PA radio.

IDF attacks Hamas military compound

The IDF attacked a military compound belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in southern Gaza overnight Tuesday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

The statement added that the airstrike was carried out in retaliation for the earlier rocket fire from Gaza.

The “Red Alert” incoming rocket siren was heard on Tuesday evening at around 10:47 p.m. in two localities in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in southern Israel.

Upon investigation, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office stated that it appeared that a rocket had been fired from Gaza into Israeli territory.

It is believed the rocket exploded in an open area. No physical injuries or damages were reported.

Since Israel exposed a terrorist tunnel on the Gaza border a few days ago, rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli territory has been renewed, at an extent not seen since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

On Monday night, rocket sirens were heard in the Ashkelon and Hof Ashkelon regions in southern Israel at around 11:30.

State agrees: Arab outpost was built on privately owned Jewish land

The illegal outpost was built by the Ramadin tribe near the Jewish town of Alfei Menashe in western Samaria. The land in question belongs to the Himnuta organization, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund.

The Regavim organization filed a petition against the outpost several days after the destruction of the Jewish town of Amona in February. The Supreme Court had ordered the destruction of Amona after ruling that a number of buildings were constructed on privately owned Arab land. The Regavim petition is the first of its kind against illegal construction on Jewish-owned property in Judea and Samaria.

The State initially argued that since the land owned by Himnuta is managed by the Custodian of Government Property, it is not obligated to give priority to enforcement against illegal construction on these lands.

However, during the hearings, Himnuta responded to the Supreme Court through Attorney Dina Yahav that the land is private property and registered under the organization’s name in the land registry.

According to the state’s representative, attorney Meital Buchman Schindel, after examining Himnuta’s position, it became clear that Himnuta had joint ownership of the land and that the state was mistaken in its original position.

The judges ordered the state to file an amended response to the petition within thirty days.`

Survey: Israelis have more faith in IDF, courts than in politicians

The public’s view of the overall situation in Israel is improving, with 48% saying they think that the country is doing well, compared to 36.5% who said the same in 2016, the Israel Democracy Index report for 2017 shows.

Despite the uptick in overall public assessments of the state, 45% of respondents said they thought that democratic government in Israel was in serious danger, and 58% opposed the idea of revoking the Supreme Court’s right to nullify laws the Knesset passes.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the public thinks that politicians in Israel are not in touch with the needs of the voters.

The Israel Defense Forces was the most trusted public institution, according to the survey, with 81% of respondents saying they had faith in it. The IDF was followed by the presidency, with 65% of respondents saying they had faith in the institution, and the Supreme Court, which had the faith of 56% of respondents.

In addition, 56% of respondents said they thought that the media portrayed things as worse than they actually were, but 74% opposed a bill that would make it possible to shut down media outlets that are critical of government policy.

Jerusalem court convicts Palestinian for stabbing yeshiva student

The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday convicted Ahmad ‘Ashaier of aggravated assault for stabbing an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student in August 2016.

The victim, 18 at the time, was moderately hurt in the stabbing, sustaining several wounds to his upper body.

The attack took place in the A-Tur neighborhood, where ‘Ashaier, then 19, is a resident.

The Jewish teenager was attacked at a grocery store near the Mount of Olives cemetery. His attacker approached him bare-handed, but picked up a “sharpened wooden plank” that was on the ground nearby and stabbed the teenager with it, police said at the time.

The injured teenager flagged down a vehicle and traveled to a nearby Border Police station. The officers quickly called the Magen David Adom rescue service and launched a search for the perpetrator.

Military arrests top Hamas operative in Judea and Samaria

Security forces operating in Judea and Samaria overnight arrested Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of Hamas’ most senior operatives outside the Gaza Strip.

Yousef, one of the more visible leaders of the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, was arrested as part of security raids on several Palestinian villages.

The military confirmed that 32 Palestinians were detained, including six Hamas operatives. The majority of the suspects are believed to have taken part in violent riots and clashes with Israeli security forces and local residents.

The raids were a joint operation of the IDF, Israel Police, Shin Bet security agency and the Border Police. Several weapons were seized, an IDF official said.

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