One year ago American student and veteran Taylor Force stabbed to death by Palestinian Terrorist
When anti-Israel students on campus chant “Long Live the Intifada,” remember Taylor Force.
The Taylor Force Act proposed legislation seeks to cut off funds from the Palestinian Authority for its policy of paying the families of terrorists. The Free Beacon reports on the reintroduction of the legislation:
The White House is signaling its support for a new congressional effort to cut all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority due to its continued support of terrorism against Israelis and Americans, according to senior lawmakers and senior White House officials.
Leading lawmakers in the House and Senate gathered Tuesday on Capitol Hill to introduce legislation that would cut all U.S. funding to the Palestinian government, which has been criticized for providing financial incentives to terrorists who kill American and Israeli civilians.
The White House signaled its support for the legislation in a vast departure from the Obama administration, which worked against similar efforts when in power.
The murder of Taylor Force was part of what became known as the “Knife Intifada,” in which stabbings became the hallmark of Palestinian attacks.
When anti-Israel students on campus, such as these students at UT-Austin, chant “Long Live the Intifada,” remember Taylor Force.
US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley: Palestinians Must Stop Incitement, Engage in Direct Peace Talks With Israel
The Palestinian Authority must “stop its incitement to violence” and engage with Israel in “direct peace negotiations, rather than looking to the UN,” a top American diplomatic official said on Tuesday.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley made the statement after meeting with her Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour — an encounter she described as “productive.”
“The US is committed to supporting a true peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” she said.
Last month, Haley received warm praise from the pro-Israel community in both the US and abroad after taking the UN Security Council to task for its double standards when it comes to its treatment of the Jewish state.
Following her first meeting with Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, Haley said, “Never again will our allies have to question our support.”
Liberman urges US to cut ties with Israel-bashing UN bodies
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday asked US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to reconsider American support for the United Nations agency that deals with Palestinian refugees, as well as for the UN Human Rights Council.
During a meeting at the State Department, Liberman urged Tillerson to consider quitting the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and to stop funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA.
The agencies do not fulfill their mission, he told the secretary, according to readout of the meeting issued by Liberman’s office. “Instead, the Human Rights Council deals with demonizing Israel and with efforts to harm it by distorting reality.”
He said it was unacceptable that 60 percent of the council’s resolutions targeted Israel instead of dealing with the dire human rights situation in Iran or North Korea or Syria.
Last week, the US envoy to the Human Rights Council, Erin Barclay, criticized the council for its outsize focus on Israel.
Palestinians: Fake News and "Alternative Facts"
There is no shortage of Palestinian and Arab news websites that publish hoaxes, propaganda, lies and disinformation disguised as real news. This garbage is accepted as factual by many Palestinians and other Arabs.
This is a form of incitement to which the West is deaf, largely because journalists working for Western mainstream media do not wish to understand what is being reported in Arabic, or even in English.
Blood libels against Jews were once thought to be part of the dark past. They are not. What do such stories accomplish? Excuses for the murder of Jews.
Another "new" old blood libel that Palestinians have been spreading against Israel claims that Israelis are flooding Palestinian communities with narcotics in order to spread moral corruption and destroy the health of Palestinians. This lie helps Palestinians avoid responsibility for the smuggling of drugs (by Palestinians) into the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Jordan and Egypt.
That leaves us with some questions: Where is the international community's exposure of the lies that fuel the Palestinian murder of Jews? And: Will the international community once again in history fail to speak the truth about the murder of Jews?
The great anti-Semitism panic of 2017
The ADL, though, has a strong self-interest in such exaggerated complaints. When Greenblatt took over the ADL from the long-serving Abraham Foxman, he announced that the younger generation among ADL’s primary constituency, liberal, secular Jews, was no longer terribly interested in the issue of anti-Semitism, and instead wanted the ADL to focus on oppression more generally. The enthusiasm and fund-raising dollars were in supporting Black Lives Matter and transgender rights, not worrying about anti-Semitism on college campuses. One strongly suspects that this is because the threat of anti-Semitism was seen primarily as coming from the anti-Israel left. Trump created a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity for the ADL to focus on what is naturally its core issue, anti-Semitism (and also to ensure that the more conservative Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose director was invited to give the invocation at Trump’s inauguration, doesn’t steal its thunder), by focusing on the threat from the right. The ADL’s reticent donors are no longer reticent in the age of Trump, with the media reporting that donations have been pouring in since Trump’s victory. It’s therefore hardly in the ADL’s interest to objectively assess the threat from Trump and his supporters. Indeed, I’m almost impressed that an ADL official managed just the other day to link the JCC bomb threats to emboldened white supremacists, even though the only suspect caught so far is an African American leftist. Meanwhile, Foxman has been a cooler head who has been telling people, “cool it, cool it.”
Another group that has had a strong incentive to exaggerate the present threat of right-wing anti-Semitism is Jewish progressive activists. For the past decade or so, leftist Jews have increasingly found themselves excluded from progressive coalitions that not only take very harsh anti-Israel lines, but also have refused to take seriously anti-Semitism in their midst, suggesting that allegations of such anti-Semitism are mere covers for the “privilege” of “white Zionists.” So long as the problem of American anti-Semitism was largely associated with anti-Zionism and far-left politics more generally, Jews were not permitted to be part of a coalition of the marginalized.
Lo and behold, along comes Trump, and left-wing Jewish activists are portraying Jews as one of the many groups threatened by him. Trump, and, more specifically, exaggerating the threat of anti-Semitism from Trump and his supporters, gives these Jews an opportunity to, for example, stand side by side with Muslim activists in opposing various “isms” and “phobias,” rather than quarreling with them over Israel.
The irony of all this is that if you talk privately to those who work in the Jewish organization world, many will confide that the greatest threat to the security of the American Jewish community is “changing demographics,” which is a euphemism for a growing population of Arab migrants to the United States. Anti-Semitism is rife in the Arab world, with over 80 percent of the public holding strongly anti-Semitic views in many countries. The issue of whether and to what extent the United States should expand refugee admissions is a complex one, and a potential rise in (potentially violent) anti-Semitism, at least in the short term until refugees and their families assimilate, is hardly the only factor to be considered. But it’s surely a paradox that the groups and individuals who express the most public fear of potential anti-Semitism emanating from the Trump administration express little if any concern about the potential problems of admitting an untold number of refugees and immigrants from countries where extreme anti-Semitic sentiments are mundane.
Jewish Leaders Urge US Attorney General to Advance Investigation Into Ongoing Faux Bomb Threats
A major network of Jewish North American institutions has sent a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging him to take immediate action in advancing the investigation into the ongoing wave of faux bomb threats being leveled at Jewish centers across the continent.
The JCC Association of North America’s statement, signed by 141 of the organization’s leaders, said: “We are frustrated with the progress in resolving this situation. We insist that all relevant federal agencies, including your own, apply all the resources available to identify and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators, who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in communities across the country, to justice.”
Doron Krakow, president and CEO of the JCC Association, said that Jewish community centers (JCCs) play vital roles in their communties’ lives.
“JCCs have demonstrated incredible resilience over the past several weeks, relying on long-practiced measures to ensure that we can safely and effectively serve communities across the continent,” Krakow said. “We will not allow antisemitism to get in the way of our providing our invaluable programs, and we urge Attorney General Sessions to be an even stronger partner to us.”
The JCC Association’s letter came on the same day that centers in Colorado, Delaware, Connecticut and Vancouver received bomb threats, and a day after a dozen such threats were lobbed at JCCs and Jewish day schools across the US and Canada.
Trudeau, Wynne mum after two Jewish community centres receive bomb threats
Approximately 600 people, including children who attend a Jewish daycare, had to be evacuated from the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (JCC) in downtown Toronto after receiving a bomb threat around 10 am on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
Shortly afterwards, the Jewish Community Centre in London, Ontario received a similar call, prompting that centre’s evacuation. It is the second time in less than two months the London JCC was targeted.
Mayor John Tory rushed to the Toronto JCC to reassure the Jewish community that “we shoulder to shoulder with them & won’t be intimidated by threats”.
Tory said he was “heartened” by the fact everyone was evacuated from the centre safely and that police responded so quickly.
“I’m deeply saddened by the fact that this would happen here and in other parts of North America,” Tory said. “It’s clearly part of some deranged pattern of anti-Semitic behaviour.”
Following an uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes, York Regional Police has initiated increased patrols and presence at synagogues and Jewish institutions across Ontario’s York Region following the threats to Jewish communities across Canada as well as the US, where since January 120 Jewish institutions, including the offices of the Anti-Defamation League, received bomb threats.
On Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration condemns anti-Semitism “in the strongest terms” as Jewish institutions across North America were hit with a fresh wave of bomb threats.
Clifford May: Peace between Israel and the Palestinians Can’t Be Rushed
Whatever dedication, resources, or creative thinking the Trump administration might bring to bear in trying to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, writes Clifford May, the circumstances for success are, at the moment, simply absent:
Israeli leaders from Labor on the left to Likud on the right are convinced that the withdrawal of their military forces from the West Bank would leave a vacuum—and that jihadists would fill it.
Consider the precedents. In 2005, every Israeli soldier and settler was pulled out of Gaza. Within two years, Hamas had taken control and begun launching missiles at Israeli villages and cities. . . . Five years earlier, the Israelis withdrew from southern Lebanon. That strengthened Hizballah, Iran’s proxy, with whom other wars had to be fought, the last in 2006. . . . Back in 1982, as part of a historic peace agreement signed a few years earlier, Israelis handed the Sinai peninsula over to Egypt. Today, a branch of Islamic State wages an insurgency there. . . .
The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas—who turns eighty-two this month—does not appear to share Hamas’s religious [dedication to Israel’s eradication]. But were he to end his long career by shaking Netanyahu’s hand on the White House lawn, he’d be labeled a traitor, not just by Hamas but also by those seeking to succeed him in the West Bank, as well as by the Islamic Republic of Iran which, as a direct result of President Obama’s policies, is currently the ascendant power in the Middle East. All this suggests that now is not the time for dramatic diplomatic initiatives. Significant changes will occur once Abbas passes from the scene. American policymakers should be getting ready.
Kerry's knee-capping of Israel
Kerry's venality here is plain. Herzog makes it clear that Netanyahu never promised to freeze settlement construction for the duration of the talks. On the contrary: Israel had fully informed Kerry it would announce construction of up to 1,500 housing units beyond the Green Line to coincide with every phase of terrorist releases. This was the price of getting the very controversial and dangerous prisoner releases through the Israeli cabinet.
In other words, having improperly promised Abbas and foisted upon Israel these prisoner releases, Kerry knew that some construction in settlement blocs adjacent to the 1967 line (in areas that even Palestinian maps in previous negotiations indicated would be part of Israel) would follow. Abbas knew this too, and they both went along with this. So, settlements certainly were not the main reason behind the failure of the talks, Herzog writes. And yet, Kerry's "poof" vindictively and falsely pinned the failure on settlement activity; an American crime against Israel that has skewed the global diplomatic narrative ever since.
In the end, Herzog's essay is more than an impeachment of Obama and Kerry. It is an indictment of the overall Oslo paradigm (even though Herzog won't say this himself).
His essay makes it obvious that, alas, the Palestinian Authority under Abbas is not a "willing or capable" peace partner for the visible future; isn't truly seeking an end of conflict and all outstanding claims; and its bottom-line is nowhere near that of even the most flexible Israeli government.
Therefore, it is time for a new approach in dealing with the conflict.
"The sea changes in relations between major Arab states and Israel," concludes Herzog, allow for emergence of a solution strategy "in a broader regional context."
Probe faults conduct of V15, One Voice groups in 2015 election
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has found a number of problems with the conduct of the V15 and OneVoice groups that were active in Israel during the 2015 Knesset election with the aim of ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The problems were identified as part of a probe Mendelblit asked the Israeli Corporations Authority in the Justice Ministry to conduct. They include a failure to report a donation of $233,500 that came from the U.S. government and was transferred to the groups through the American ambassador. The probe also determined that the use of the name Darkenu, the umbrella organization under which V15 and OneVoice are currently operating, is illegal. The Corporations Authority has warned the groups to cease and desist until the name can be legally registered.
"The company must take care in future to submit the reports required by law," a summary of the probe's findings said.
In response, Darkenu said: "In the year 2013, the OneVoice company received a donation from the U.S. government earmarked to promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Because of a change in the status of the company in 2015 to a public benefit company, it was necessary to put out various reports to the authorities, including about the aforementioned donation, and that is what was done."
Panel clears Friedman for full Senate vote as US envoy to Israel
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved David Friedman to be US ambassador to Israel on Thursday, sending his nomination to the full Senate for a final vote on his confirmation.
The committee vote was split almost entirely along party lines, with every single Republican member voting in favor of the 57-year-old Long Island Native, and every single Democrat voting against except for New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
Friedman will now go to the full Senate for a final vote on his confirmation, though it is not yet clear when. He is likely to be approved, as there would need to be at least three Republican defections to block the nomination.
Democrats warned ahead of the vote that Friedman was ill-equipped for such a sensitive diplomatic position
“The last thing we need in this position is somebody who has a penchant for over the top hyperbolic and even false statements,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine
Arab League warns US Embassy move is ‘serious threat to world peace’
One day after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with US Vice President Mike Pence, the Arab League on Wednesday voted unanimously in Cairo for a resolution blocking the proposed relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The establishment of any diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, or transfer of one to the city, is an explicit assault on the rights of the Palestinian people and all Muslims and Christians, and a serious violation of international law,” the League said.
“It would constitute a serious threat to peace and security in the region, as well as contribute to an implosion of the two-state solution, and the promotion of extremism and violence.”
In January, Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian leader and Fatah official, warned that an embassy relocation is tantamount to “a declaration of war against Muslims.”
UN report to cite Israeli annexation, urge ending trade with territories
A new United Nations report on the settlements is due to be made public. Ynet found that the report is said to blame Israel for acting to annex the disputed territories in the West Bank, as well urge companies to end trade and business agreements with Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The report was written by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Jordanian Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein. It is also said bereft of any mention of Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank or in general.
The report notes that 2017 marks 50 years since the Six Day War (the text describes this period as 50 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian Land). It additionally states that Israel's activities in the West Bank have brought on a consistent growth of the settler population and a unilateral takeover of widespread areas of land, in opposition to international law.
"With the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory now in its 50th year, the illegal settlement enterprise continues to advance
apace. Through unabated expansion of illegal settlements and parallel efforts to consolidate Israel’s control over the West Bank, successive Israeli governments since 1967 have overseen the steady growth of the settler population and the unilateral takeover of large swaths of the west bank’s land reserves, in clear violation of international law.
The report goes on to state that Israel's actions have dire effects on Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
UN Seeks More Than $100 Million to Counter Terrorism through "Development" - Despite No Definition of Terrorism
"Ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, U.N. relief agencies have sought to distance themselves from the U.S.-led war on terror, fearing a hit to their reputations and more risks of retaliation for peacekeepers and aid workers in the field.
But the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) is now seeking to carve out a big role for itself in preventing terrorism from taking root, requesting $108 million over the next four years to fund what would be the U.N.'s largest global push to limit the spread of violent extremism, according to a confidential UNDP draft strategy paper obtained by Foreign Policy...
The U.N. push into the counterterrorism field may face strong head wind from Washington, where President Donald Trump's administration is questioning the value of preventative strategies aimed at the root causes of terrorism, like those favored by former President Barack Obama's administration.
'Saying we need jobs for jihadis - [that] it's about root causes and upstream factors - is wholly fallacious,' Sebastian Gorka, an advisor to Trump, told NPR this month. If 'poverty and lack of education' were the causes of terrorism, 'then half of India would be terrorists. And they're not.'...
Some observers say the UNDP is simply slapping a counterterrorism label on traditional development work - like promoting jobs for women and youth - in the hope of stemming its own steady decline in funding over the past decade... One reason the U.N. has been leery of jumping into counterterrorism is the difficulty of determining just who a terrorist is..."
Netanyahu in Moscow leverages Putin Purim greeting to slam Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Moscow Thursday afternoon, and used Russian President Vladimir Putin's greetings for Purim as a chance to blast Iran.
“I think you for your good wishes on Purim,” Netanyahu said alongside Putin before their meeting in the Kremlin. “Some 2,500 years ago in ancient Persia, there was an attempt to wipe out the Jews, which did not succeed, and which we commemorate with this holiday.”
Today, Netanyahu said, Iran – the continuation of ancient Persia – has similar designs: to wipe out the state of the Jews. “They say this clearly, and it is etched on their ballistic missiles,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister continued: “I want to say clearly that Israel is today a state with an army, and we are able to defend ourselves. Extreme Shia Islamic terror does not only threaten Israel, but rather the region and the world. I know that we are partners in the desire to prevent any victory for Islamic terror, from any direction.”
In his comments, Netanyahu said that Russia has played an important part in the fight against Sunni Islamic terror represented by Islamic State and al-Qaida.
“It is obvious that we would not want that terrorism to be replaced by extreme Shia Islamic terrorism, led by Iran,” he said.
Netanyahu tells Putin that Iran must not replace IS in Syria
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that his talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin were focused on keeping Iran from filling the vacuum left by the Islamic State in Syria and combating Iranian-sponsored radical Islamic terrorism.
“One of the things that we are fighting against together is radical Islamic terrorism. Of course, there was significant progress last year in the fight against the terrorism of radical Sunni Islam led by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and Russia has a very important contribution,” Netanyahu said ahead of his meeting with the Russian president.
“It’s obvious that we wouldn’t want this terror to be replaced by radical Islamic Shiite terror led by Iran,” he said.
While Russia has played a major role over the last year in Syria combating the Islamic State and the Syrian rebels, Israel is concerned that the Kremlin not allow Iran, Russia’s ally in supporting Syrian strongman Bashar Assad, a permanent foothold in the country.
Netanyahu and UK’s Boris Johnson spar over settlements
Visiting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu butted heads publicly on Wednesday over whether Israeli settlements hinder the peace process.
Speaking before Government Press Office cameras ahead of their meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu welcomed Johnson and said he looked forward to visiting London later this year to celebrate the centennial of the Balfour Declaration, which laid key diplomatic groundwork for Jewish statehood.
Johnson recalled the time in his youth when he worked in a kibbutz and joked about his “not-very-substantial contribution to the Israeli economy back then.” On a serious note, he went on to say that Prime Minister Theresa May and the rest of the UK government are “rock-like supporters of Israel.”
“What we want to see is an Israel that is at peace with its neighbors,” said Johnson, who had just come from meetings with Palestinian officials in Ramallah. “I should remind you that the policy of my government is for a two-state solution, which is what we want to achieve and help to bring about in a modest and humble way. And obviously we want to help remove the obstacles to that.”
He then briefly changed the topic, stating that Israel has “an absolute right to live in security, and the people of Israel deserve to be safe from terrorism. That’s our absolute priority.”
Jerusalem and London cooperate in various areas to “ensure the stability of the entire region,” Johnson said, only to return to the thorny issue of settlements. “And of course we must also try to remove obstacles to peace and progress, such as the settlements, which you and I have discussed before.”
UK’s Johnson, in Ramallah, urges 2-state solution, says Trump brings fresh approach
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Wednesday his government remained committed to a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he visited the region for talks with leaders from both sides.
“The policy of our government in the UK is absolutely unchanged,” Johnson told reporters in Ramallah, standing next to Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on a podium near a “State of Palestine” seal.
“We remain committed to a two-state solution, to that vision, for the resolution of this conflict. You know, I really think it is possible,” he said.
President Donald Trump, in a break from his predecessors, has sent mixed signals about whether the United States still supports a two-state solution.
His election has emboldened Israeli hard-liners who oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, while Netanyahu recently stopped short of endorsing the idea.
First official UK royal visit to Israel ‘looks set’ for this year
In what would be an historic first formal visit, Buckingham Palace officials say a trip to Israel by a member of the British royal family “looks set to go ahead this year,” the UK daily The Times reported Tuesday.
Whitehall sources said that a royal visit had been under discussion for some time and an invitation issued by President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday was likely to be accepted, the London-based paper said. The likelihood of such a visit was first reported by The Times of Israel in November.
“As with all invitations for official overseas travel by members of the royal family, we will act on the advice of the Foreign Office,” Buckingham Palace was quoted as saying.
While royals have visited Israel in the past, no representative of the British monarchy has ever come to country on an official “royal tour.” The planned official royal visit would thus be the first in the Jewish state’s 68-year existence, during which nearly every other country on earth has been visited by a representative of the crown.
David Singer: PLO Humiliated for Denying Free Speech and Elections
Negotiations between Israel and the PLO under the Oslo Accords were always destined to founder since the PLO Charter states that:
Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan are:
(i) An indivisible territorial unit and
(ii) An indivisible part of the Arab homeland
The 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and everything based on them since then are null and void.
3. Jews do not constitute a single nation with an identity of its own Jordan and Israel’s 1994 Peace Treaty rejected these PLO deal-breakers.
Oslo’s demise opens the possibility of Jordan and Israel redrawing their existing international boundary to mutually divide the West Bank between their respective States.
President Trump should jump to seal the deal.
Hamas said set to recognize Palestine on 1967 borders, but not Israel
Hamas is reportedly planning to endorse a state of Palestine along the 1967 borders — a move that would be a monumental shift from the group’s long-held policy of reclaiming all of historic Palestine — though it won’t recognize Israel’s legitimacy.
The new policy will be announced in amendments to Hamas’s charter that is to be published in April, after the group’s political bureau completes its internal elections, the Pan-Arab daily a-Sharq al-Awsat reported Tuesday, citing sources within the Islamist terror group.
The new policy is being crafted in order to engage regional and international partners, such as Egypt, the report said.
The report follows a number of statements by senior Hamas leaders in recent months to the effect that the group will recognize the 1967 borders, but not the State of Israel.
Daniel Pipes: Jordan at the Precipice
Six months ago, Jordan’s King Abdullah said that his country was “in dire straits.” I just completed a week of intensive travels and discussions throughout the country, and found that no one disagrees with this assessment. Jordan may no longer be hyper-vulnerable and under siege, as it was in decades past, but it does face problems that are likely unprecedented.
Jordan, which was created out of thin air by Winston Churchill in 1921 in order to accommodate British imperial interests, has always led a precarious existence. Particularly dangerous moments came in the 1967, when Pan-Arabist pressures led King Hussein (who ruled from 1952-99) to make war on Israel and lose the West Bank; in 1970, when a Palestinian revolt nearly toppled him; and between 1990 and 1991, when pro-Saddam Hussein sentiments pushed the King to join a hopeless and evil cause.
Today’s dangers are manifold.
ISIS lurks in Syria and Iraq, just beyond Jordan’s border, and is attractive to a small but real minority of Jordanians. Jordan’s once-robust trade with Syria and Iraq has nearly collapsed — and with it, Jordan’s lucrative transit role.
In a region that is bountiful in oil and gas, Jordan is one of the very few countries to have almost no petroleum resources. City-dwellers receive water just one day a week, and country-dwellers often even less. Tourism has declined due to the Middle East’s notorious volatility, and the king’s recent assertion of authority is alienating the people, who are demanding more democracy.
Israeli Experts Claim Iran and North Korea Working On Nuclear Warheads
Iran is using its strategic relationship with North Korea to advance its nuclear weapon program, two Israeli experts of the Begin Sadat Center revealed in a study published Tuesday.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Dr. Refael Ofek and Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham say that Iran is circumventing the restrictions on its nuclear program under the nuclear agreement with the P5+1 countries by collaborating with North Korea on missile development and modifying missiles for nuclear weapons.
They also work together on programs meant to upgrade gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the Israeli experts claim.“This kind of strategic, military-technological collaboration is more than merely plausible. It is entirely possible, indeed likely, that such a collaboration is already underway,” the two Israeli experts wrote.
The pair also noted the two countries have developed almost identical ballistic missiles which can carry nuclear warheads..
“Iran’s Shahab-3 missile is a variant of North Korea’s Nodong-1. The warhead on the Shahab-3 was redesigned to carry a nuclear warhead in the mid-2000s by Kamran Daneshjoo, a top Iranian scientist,” Ofek and Shoham wrote.
Israeli ministers said unwilling to attend Buenos Aires bombing commemoration
Argentina is poised to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a terror attack against the Israeli embassy in Argentina, but no Israeli ministers have shown willingness to attend, a Channel 2 news reporter said Wednesday.
Udi Segal, the station’s veteran diplomatic correspondent, tweeted that while official events next week will be attended by bereaved families and Argentina’s vice president, Israel has so far failed to provide an official cabinet representative.
On March 17, 1992, a suicide bomber killed 29 and wounded hundreds in front of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, in what still is the deadliest attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission. A group with ties to Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah took responsibility for the bombing.
At an event in Israel commemorating the bombing on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was the source of the vast majority of Israel’s security concerns.
In First, Arab Israeli Leaders Back National Volunteer Program
Top Arab Israeli politicians have given their backing to a nationwide volunteer program for recent Arab Israeli high school graduates — an age when most Jewish and Druze Israeli youth are drafted into the Israeli military.
The leader of the Arab Joint List faction, MK Ayman Odeh, and fellow Joint List lawmakers Masud Ganaim and Jamal Zahalka announced last week their support for a volunteer program for army-age youth, which would be administered by local governments in Arab towns, The Times of Israel reported.
The program was developed by two groups that promote Arab-Jewish coexistence: the Abraham Fund, an Israeli non-profit working to promote Arab-Jewish coexistence, and the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation. Yad Hanadiv, a Jerusalem-based charity run the Rothschild family, has provided funding.
A pilot of the program launched last year and is now being run with 160 participants in six Arab towns: Rahat, Hura, Segev Shalom, Qalanswa, Kfar Qassem, and Eloud. The first three are Bedouin towns, where some youth also volunteer to serve in the military.
The Abraham Fund plans to ask Israel’s Welfare Ministry to take over funding of the program once it extends to ten towns.
Israel's security wall: A model for America?
Palestinian Christian persecution in West Bank
'Israel arrests Palestinian Hezbollah suspect who planned kidnapping, terror attacks'
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Thursday the arrest of a suspected Palestinian Hezbollah operative who was allegedly instructed to carry out terror attacks against Israelis as well as kidnap Israeli civilians.
The suspect, Yusef Yasser Suylam, a 23-year-old based in the Palestinian West Bank town of Qalqiliya, was recently arrested in a joint Shin Bet, Israel Police and IDF operation. Following his arrest, the Shin Bet interrogated Suylam and discovered that Hezbollah had recruited him through social media, luring the young man to join their ranks through a Facebook profile the Shi'ite terror organization regularly uses to track potential recruits.
Suylam was instructed to carry out several tasks on behalf of Hezbollah. He was sent to spy on IDF bases in order to gather information about their location and activities. In the same manner, Sulyam was sent to stake out security crossings and different sites in Jerusalem. He was also tasked with founding a terror cell whose purpose was to carry out a kidnapping attack.
Underground Gaza wall construction expedited
Construction work on the underground wall designed to prevent tunnel breaches into Israeli territory from Gaza is being expedited.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 foreign workers are expected to be recruited to help build the underground barrier.
The information was made public by Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam in his meeting with officials from towns near the Gaza border to update them on the status of the project.
According to Adam, technological work to be undertaken by two Israeli companies is also set to begin soon. He added that the companies will create jobs for residents of the region and that there are already some from the area currently working on the project.
The barrier, for which more than three billion shekels were allocated for its construction, is expected to be completed in two years.
The possibility to open the Erez crossing to increase the number of workers from Gaza for the purpose of working the region's fields was also brought up during the conversation.
Jordan says ‘Muezzin Bill’ is discriminatory, violates peace treaty
Jordan on Wednesday said an Israeli bill limiting the use of loudspeakers by Muslim mosques was “discriminatory” and “violates Israel’s obligations under international human rights” as well as various charters and international conventions.
Lawmakers gave an initial okay to the controversial bill during a stormy vote on the measure in the Knesset earlier in the day. It still must pass two further readings to become law.
Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Al Momani said the legislation was particularly unacceptable in East Jerusalem, where the Jordanian-run Waqf manages the Islamic holy sites.
The new bill violated the peace treaty between the two nations by infringing upon the Waqf’s rights in regulating worship in the city, he said.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to push forward with the legislation, saying “All Israeli citizens — Jews, Muslims and Christians alike — have a right to sleep in peace. We will move forward with the legislation, as is the practice in many nations around the world.”
Israel arrests female Hamas MP in West Bank raid
Israeli soldiers arrested a Hamas parliamentarian from a village outside Hebron early Thursday morning, the Shin Bet security service said.
Samira Halayka was picked up by the Israel Defense Forces from her home in al-Shuyukh, northeast of Hebron, as part of a series of overnight raids across the West Bank,
Four other alleged Hamas members were also arrested early Thursday morning, three of them in Tulkarem and one in Rafat, the IDF said.
Halayka is the latest high-ranking Hamas official to be picked up by the army in recent days. On Monday, two other Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament — Anwar Zabun and Khaled Tafesh — were arrested, along with Ghassan Hermas, a professor at al-Quds University in nearby Abu Dis.
Report: US Marines Arrive in Syria Outside De Facto ISIS Capital
A detachment of U.S Marines arrived in Syria outside the ISIS de-facto capital of Raqqa, a U.S. defense official confirmed Wednesday to Fox News.
The Pentagon is not publically confirming the move, citing operational security.
The recent deployment is expected to be discussed Thursday when the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joe Votel, the top U.S. general responsible for American forces in the Middle East, appears before Congress to testify on the ISIS fight.
Votel had hinted that more troops would be headed to Syria along with artillary when he spoke to reporters while traveling in the region late last month.
The U.S. is authorized to have up to 500 troops in Syria. Before the Marines arrived, roughly 300 U.S. special operations personnel were supporting local Syrian forces there.
Iran setting up shell shipping companies to export weapons and illicit goods
Nearly half of all shipping docks in Iran are operated by the regime’s military, and it is using shell companies to smuggle weapons and other illicit goods, according to a new report.
A total of 90 docks have been taken over by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is using them to circumvent sanctions and fund terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond, according to the anti-regime People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
“Based on the direct order of the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, no authority is allowed to oversee the activities of the IRGC at border areas, be it on the ground, sea or air, and it can import anything in any quantity without paying any customs fee,” PMOI officials said in a statement provided to Fox News. “The IRGC uses these docks for its unlawful activities.”
The PMOI adds that in order to fund its activities, the Revolutionary Guard engages in smuggling oil, gas, chemical products, cigarettes, narcotics, alcohol, mobile phones, pharmaceuticals, hygiene material and energy drugs and supplements.
The importing and exporting of these illicit goods has allowed the IRGC to net $12 billion annually, the group estimates.
UK Banks Afraid of Doing Business with Iran Due to Lack of Anti-Fraud Measures
British banks are refraining from doing business with Iranian counterparts despite the lifting of legal limits on such deals because the Iranian banks “aren’t up to the same anti-money-laundering and financial fraud standards,” The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The Journal article focuses on the Iranian-owned Bank Sepah International PLC, which handled more than 2,000 monthly transactions and had a $1.5 billion balance sheet before sanctions were imposed. But more than a year after sanctions were lifted, the bank “still hasn’t processed a single commercial transaction, other than paying 28 employees and some vendors, because it is still effectively frozen out of the financial system, especially in the U.K., by big banks unwilling to risk dealing with Iranian entities,” the Journal reported.
“On paper, there may be banks removed from sanctions, but the geopolitical environment suggests this is not a done deal,” said Juan Zarate, a former Treasury Department official and leading expert on financial sanctions. “Western institutions feel it is very risky.”
Despite efforts by former Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage European banks to do business with Iranian financial institutions, most have hesitated.
Iran arrests two Catholics in new wave of brutality against Christians
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested two Christians – a mother and her son – in late February as part of a brutal crackdown on Catholicism in the country’s West Azerbaijan Province.
The family’s bibles and literature on Christian theology were also seized during the draconian raid, according to a March 5 report on the website of the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat.
“The arrest of two newly Christian converts – Anousheh Rezabakhsh and Soheil Zargarzadeh (mother and son, respectively) – in Urmia, a northern city in Iran, is very sad and concerning, especially as they both are dealing with health issues. It’s been more than two weeks that Iranian authorities have not provided any news on them,” Eliot Assoudeh, an Iranian-American academic at University of Nevada, told Fox News on Wednesday.
He said Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in Iran, and many Christian converts “have to risk their lives attending underground churches."
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