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Latest Israel News – 15th August

Mossad Chief: Middle East ‘Changing for the Worse,’ Iran Threat Growing Post-Nuclear Deal

The regional threat posed by Iran is growing, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen told Israeli cabinet ministers on Sunday, according to media reports.

The Middle East is “changing for the worse,” the Hebrew news site Walla quoted Cohen as saying. “Israel is identifying a presence not only of Iran and Hezbollah, but also of Shiite forces, that are not Iranian, from all over the world that are making their way to the region, and our number one mission is to stop this.”

The remarks, Walla reported, were made during a periodic briefing provided by the head of the Mossad to the cabinet. One senior official who attended the meeting told Walla that Iran topped the agenda.

Referring to the ceasefire deal brokered by the US and Russia last month regarding southern Syria, Cohen reportedly said that Israel’s demand that Iranian and other Shiite forces leave the area had not been accepted. Diplomatic efforts on the matter were continuing, he added, but “Israel’s aspirations have not yet been internalized by the American side.”

In a statement about Cohen’s briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the Mossad chief “emphasized that the main process taking place in the Middle East today is Iran’s expansion” — via its own forces and local proxies — in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

“In places where the presence of ISIS is decreasing, Iran is working to fill the void,” Netanyahu’s office quoted Cohen as saying.

Cohen also informed ministers that Iran had not abandoned its goal of becoming a nuclear-threshold state and that the Iranian economy had been growing since the July 2015 nuclear deal agreed to by the Tehran regime and six world powers.

This, Netanyahu’s office said, was “clear proof that the basic assumptions of the deal with Iran were wrong from the start.”

Netanyahu’s office continued, was not obligated by international agreements signed by Iran and would continue to act “in a variety of ways” to protect itself from the threats it faces. (the Algemeiner)

Netanyahu: ISIS out, Iran in? We won’t allow it

Israel will not allow Iran and its proxies to take over areas vacated by the Islamic State (ISIS) group, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made clear on Sunday.

“Today we received a review from the head of the Mossad about the security challenges we face. I will give summarize it on one sentence – ISIS out, Iran in. We are talking mainly about Syria,” Netanyahu said in Ashdod, referring to Mossad Director Yossi Cohen’s assessment that the Iranian regime is expanding its control across the Middle East through proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

“Our policy is clear,” said the Prime Minister. “We strongly oppose the military buildup of Iran and its proxies, first and foremost Hezbollah in Syria, and we will do everything necessary to maintain Israel’s security. That’s how we act.”

“We are guarding the state and its borders. We are strengthening the IDF, strengthening the security forces all the time, in order to ensure security, because we know first and foremost that in order to build the land, we have to protect the land,” he stressed.

Cohen told the cabinet in his briefing on Sunday that Iran has not abandoned its aspirations to become a nuclear power, and that the nuclear agreement signed between the world powers and Iran only strengthens Iranian aggression in the region.

Netanyahu had been a major opponent of the Iran deal, lobbying members of the U.S. Congress to vote against the plan, and warning that the accords would pave the way for Iran to become a nuclear power. (Arutz Sheva)

Parents of lone soldiers to get free trips to Israel

Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) has unveiled a new program designed to assist the parents of lone soldiers and pay for them to visit their children in Israel.

‘Lone soldiers’ are IDF troops who do not live with their parents. An estimated 2,900 of the 6000 lone soldier currently serving have parents living overseas, and many do not have the financial means to visit their children in Israel.

Bennett’s initiative, which is modeled after the successful ‘Birthright,’ would subsidize visits to Israel for parents of current lone soldiers,in a joint project run by the Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Ministries. The program would include flights, guided tours, and lodging. The soldiers would also get special leave from the IDF in order to spend time with their families.

“The parents and families of lone soldiers are providing the nation what they value the most and throughout their service, they do not see their child and are not in any official contact with the State of Israel,” Bennett told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

“We must work to strengthen their contact with their families as part of a commitment on behalf of the government of Israel, which has a commitment to Jews around the world.”

Lone soldiers are highly regarded in Israel’s family-oriented society, and the government provides them extensive assistance during their service. Soldiers with parents living overseas are entitled to a fully funded flight home during their service through a program run by the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) and are given a special 30 day leave every year to visit family.

Lone soldiers are also allowed to take off 8 days annually from the IDF should one of their parents visit Israel.

Bennett has shown his appreciation for lone soldier before, having awarded the 2017 Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement to Tzvika Levi, known as the ‘Father of lone soldiers’ for his decades-long effort in looking after their welfare.

Bennett had touted Levi as “one of the finest sons our country has produced – a Zionist role model, but above all a father to thousands of isolated soldiers who found in him an address [to turn to], while he was father, mother, listener, friend, and brother for them.”  (Arutz Sheva)

Oldest man in the world, a Holocaust survivor living in Israel, dies

Yisrael Kristal, a Holocaust survivor of the Nazi Auschwitz death camp, who was recognized as the oldest man, passed away on Friday. Kristal, a resident of Haifa, was due to celebrate his 114th birthday next month. A date for the funeral has yet to be set, but it will probably take place on Saturday night.

His daughter, Shula Kupershtuch, said her father died in the afternoon falling ill and being hospitalized. “I got a great father, who gave me a lot of confidence and strength,” she said Saturday. “Despite allthat he went through, and his losing his whole family in the Holocaust, he had a lot of optimism. He always saw only light and good in everything.

“I remember how when my husband passed away, he told me to ‘take comfort in having a burial plot.’ There were many people in Auschwitz who perished and burned, who they were not buried. But he was buried here, in the earth of the Holy Land.”

Kupershtuch added that her father did not take his living in Israel for granted, in light of all the victims and family members who remained behind who did not survive as he did. “He did not take the Holy Land for granted, as we do.”

In 2014, Kristal was recognized as the oldest survivor still alive, and about a year and a half ago Guinness World Records recognized him as the oldest man in the world. During the First World War he was 13 years old, and because of the war he missed his Bar Mitzvah celebrations. He finally went through his Bar Mitzvah 100 years later, when he had an Aliyah, in September 2016. His daughter Shula said at the time that “it always bothered him that they did not celebrate him a Bar Mitzvah.

After Kristal’s death, the oldest man in the world is Francisco Nuniz Oliveira, age 112. The oldest woman is Violet Brown, 117, from Jamaica.

Born in 1903, Kristal’s life story spanned all all of the 20th century. After his father died at the age of 16, he studied the secrets of making sweets and opened a factory in Lodz, and married Feiga. At the time of World War II he was married and the father of two children who perished in the Holocaust.

“During the years they lived in the Lodz ghetto,” recalled his daughter. “His two sons died from diseases when they were 8 and 10. What protected Yisrael and his wife was his talent for making sweets. It was what saved (their—ed) life, because the sweets made my father were considered essential in the ghetto and therefore was not sent to the camps, but only towards the end (of WWII). The Germans had birthdays, so the sweets and chocolates were essential for their festivities.”

Kristal and his first wife remained in the ghetto, and in May 1944 were sent to Auschwitz in a transfer that was among the latter. They stayed in Auschwitz for ten months, were sent to labor camps and then marched toward their expected deaths. Yisrael weighed only 37 kilograms. His wife, Feiga, did not survive.

After the war, Kristal returned to Lodz and reestablished a candy factory. He met Batsheva, who also lost her family in the Holocaust, and they married and immigrated to Israel in 1950. The couple had three children, but one of them died in infancy. They raised two daughters to adulthood.

Upon his death, Yisrael had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He brought his secrets of sweets-making with him to Israel, establishing a candy factory in Haifa. (Ynet News)

HomeFront Command builds escape room to train soldiers for disasters

The Home Front Command is taking a cue from the civilian world and using the popular trend of escape rooms to train its soldiers.

With an escape room already in use by the Air Force, the army believes they are an alternative learning tool to help soldiers understand the material they have learned in a practical way.

“The ability to bring knowledge in ways that are different, in ways that are not usual such as sitting in a classroom, but in a more active way, are more effective and make the knowledge last longer,” Lt.-Col. Tal Rozin, head of the Home Front Command School told The Jerusalem Post.

Lt. Inbar Levi who built the room with her own hands together with another soldier over the course of four months said its goal is to test the level of community-intelligence gathering by soldiers and escape the room within the allotted time of 60 minutes.

“We think the best way to learn is to learn with your hands,” she said, adding that more than 100 soldiers and officers have completed the challenge since the room opened in June.

The technique of using community intelligence has been around for years, and the escape room is supposed to work on the soldier’s ability to quickly figure out who is where during an emergency situation.

Rozin said the technique plays “a central part of saving lives,” explaining that the army has used it in several catastrophic events such as the 1999 earthquake in Turkey; the collapse of the Versailles wedding hall in 2001 in Jerusalem; and the recent parking lot collapse in Ramat Hachayal.

The army, Rozin added, is always working on improving the soldier’s ability to gather relevant information from the population and said training soldiers in escape rooms is a great way to learn while at the same time giving them something enjoyable to do.

The room, which is located on the Home Front Command’s base at the Tzrifin base in Rishon Lezion, simulates a building that collapsed trapping several people inside four different apartments. The soldiers must identify those inside the apartments – including elderly and deaf civilians in one, soldiers in another, a family with children in a third and Russian speakers in a fourth – by using clues that, to the untrained eye, are hard to notice.

One clue Levi pointed out are garbage cans painted in the colors of emergency services and a path made out of bricks painted in the same colors as the garbage cans. Soldiers must figure out that numbers on the bricks are the numbers that will open up the locks on the garbage, cans which have clues inside them.

“In one of the garbage cans is a guide dog that was found barking outside the building by emergency services.

Soldiers must use community intelligence to understand that the dog belonged to an elderly blind man who is trapped inside the building,” Levi explained.

In order to complete the room, soldiers must hand in a sheet of paper documenting each individual who was trapped in the four apartments or who made it out safely. Because of the difficulty in finding the necessary clues, the best time for completing the room, so far, is 43 minutes.

“The difficulty of the room makes the soldier think harder in order to solve the puzzle of who was in the building,” Rozin said, adding that she hopes the completion time will improve.  (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu seeks power to go to war without broad government approval

A new initiative by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would allow him to decide on going to war with only the approval of the security cabinet, and not the full cabinet, Channel 2 reported Sunday.

The purpose of the bill is to avoid information leaks.

In some cases, according to the proposal, a prime minister would be able to declare war or get approval for a lengthy military operation even without the full security cabinet’s approval.

The cabinet already reportedly approved the amendment to Basic Law: Government, which would allow the full cabinet to vote right after a government is formed to allow the security cabinet to decide whether to go to war.

The bill is expected to be brought to a vote in the Knesset when its recess ends, in October.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not confirm or deny the report.

Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven said the law is dangerous and eliminates the broad discretion necessary to decide on declaring war.

“War is a very dramatic event in the life of a nation,” he stated. “Therefore, I will do all I can to try to prevent another law that can be severely harmful to Israel’s future. I think this is another distraction from Netanyahu’s shaky legal situation.”

Former prime minister Ehud Barak, a prominent Netanyahu critic, wrote on twitter: “If the intention is to legislate the reality that (justly) is customary anyway that the security cabinet (and not the full cabinet) makes the decision – that is fine. Much ado about nothing.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Plans under way for first PM visit to Latin America

Following groundbreaking visits by an Israeli prime minister over the last 13 months to Kazakhstan, Singapore, Australia and five African states, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to visit Argentina and Mexico in September, which would make him the first sitting Israeli prime minister to ever visit Latin America.

While the trips to the two Spanish-speaking countries have not yet been finalized, they are in the advanced planning stages and are expected to take place in mid-September. If all goes as expected, Netanyahu would go to Argentina and Mexico, and from there travel to New York to address the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu is scheduled to address the world body on September 19, the same day as US President Donald Trump.

He is then expected to fly back that night in order to return home before the onset of Rosh Hashana on September 20.

The trip would coincide with the 70th anniversary of the UN partition plan vote when 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries were among 33 states that cast ballots in its favor, paving the way for Israel’s independence.

Cuba was the only Latin American country to vote against. The visits to Argentina and Mexico, if they come to fruition, would represent a “historic” and “significant” upgrade in Israel’s relations with this part of the globe, said one diplomatic source.

This is an extension of Netanyahu’s policy of seeking to improve ties with regions of the world in which Israel has not heavily invested or concentrated on in the past.

Netanyahu planned to visit Mexico, Panama and Colombia in 2014, but the visits were scrapped because of a Foreign Ministry strike at the time.

Since then, Israel’s ties with Argentina have improved considerably as a result of the victory in the 2015 presidential election of Mauricio Macri, with whom Netanyahu has developed a strong relationship.

The trip to Mexico also sends a signal that its abstention in UNESCO votes on Jerusalem last year, as well as friction over a tweet Netanyahu posted regarding the efficacy of a border wall, are not hindering ties between the countries.

Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil are considered by Jerusalem to be the leading diplomatic and economic powers in Latin America.

However, Netanyahu will not have time on this trip to visit all of them. In addition to having considerable economic and diplomatic clout, both Argentina and Mexico have strong, Zionist Jewish communities.

Netanyahu spoke publicly last November of an intention to visit Latin America during a visit to Jerusalem by Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales, who also invited the prime minister to his country.

“Latin America has always been friendly to Israel, but I think we’re at a position where these relationships can be far, far, far advanced,” Netanyahu said at the time.

Diplomatic officials said the Latin American and Caribbean countries are interested in much of the same things from Israel as are the African states, such as technology and agricultural, security and medical knowledge.

An indication of Latin America’s desire to cooperate closely with Israel was evident last week during a visit to the country by Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the 35-member Organization of American States.

It was the first visit of an OAS Secretary General in years.  (Jerusalem Post)

Jews flee Venezuela amid growing political violence

Jews in Venezuela are increasingly fleeing the country amid the rising political instability and violence under President Nicolas Maduro, with a growing number decamping for Israel.

Speaking at their new apartment in Jerusalem, Estella and Haim Sadna, a religious couple with four kids from the Venezuelan capital Caracas, described the food scarcity and rampant crime that drove them to move the Jewish state.

“Most of the supermarkets are empty. Everything is empty. You can see that all the aisles are completely empty,” Haim Sadna told Channel 2 in an interview aired Saturday.

His wife Estella complained of the difficulty in Venezuela of buying basic products such as milk for her kids, adding that “since Passover we haven’t had bread.”

“We lived in a beautiful home with seven rooms. But we left everything behind. We left the house, we left the furniture, the cars. Everything remained [there],” the couple said. “We brought the clothes that we use. That is what we brought, clothes and shoes.”

The Sadnas also noted the collapse of public services in the country such as healthcare, as well the sky-high crime rates, with Venezuela having some of the world’s worst murder statistics.

“The crime situation is [so bad] that it is scary to go out to the street. I only go out of it is essential and that is it,” Estella said. “At five p.m. we would run home.”

“The situation got worse and worse. We could no longer go out to the street,” she continued. “On most days the kids didn’t go to school. They said they were in jail, that the house was a jail. The children have no life [in Venezuela].”

While Venezuela once had one of the largest Jewish communities in the region, numbering some 25,000 in 1999, only about 9,000 Jews are believed to remain in the country. Israel has been working behind the scenes in order to bring as many of those remaining as possible to Jewish state, according to Channel 2.

Nissim Bezalel, who moved to Israel from Venezuela a year and a half ago, said that Jews are in an increasingly perilous situation as a result of the widespread poverty stemming from the collapse of the Venezuelan economy.

“Because there is the image of Jews as wealthy people — that they have money — they are a target, to kidnap them and demand a ransom for them,” he told Channel 2. “It is not because they are Jews, it is because they have money.”

While most of the Jews leaving Venezuela would flee to Mexico, Panama or Miami, an increasing number of have been coming to Israel. Last month, a batch of 26 Jews arrived in the Jewish state from Venezuela.

Ofer Dahan, who heads the immigration department for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, told Channel 2 that the state has increased its aid to Venezuelan immigrants as the situation in the country has gotten worse.

While many Jews have fled the country amid the growing instability, a number have joined the protesters demonstrating against Maduro’s rule.

Alex Cohen, who said he joined the protests in Caracas four months ago, told Channel 2 that the goal of the demonstrators is “the return of Venezuela to the people.”

“In Venezuela there is a dictator and Venezuela is held as a hostage by ten people,” he said, while calling on the international community to come to the assistance of the demonstrators.

Opposition figure Nixon Moreno, who said he was forced to go underground after being arrested, likened the opposition’s struggle to Israel’s fight against terror.

“Israel understands us very well because Israel is a victim of terror by extremist groups,” he said, adding that Venezuela is “fighting against another kind of terror.”

Despite once being one of the wealthiest nations in South America, with the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the Venezuelan economy has collapsed as a result of the economic mismanagement beginning under the late president Hugo Chavez.

The economic situation has further deteriorated since Chavez’s death in 2013 and the rise to power of his hand-picked successor Maduro, a former bus driver, with inflation hitting some 800 percent and ever growing shortages of basic foodstuffs, toilet paper and medicine.

With the collapsing economy, the country has been rocked by political turmoil, as Maduro has sought to consolidate power following the opposition’s victory in the 2015 parliamentary elections by weakening the legislature’s powers and imprisoning political opponents.

Last month, Venezuela held elections for a new constitutional assembly that supersedes the parliament’s authorities. The US and a number of other Western and Latin American have refused to recognize the results, citing fraud and other irregularities.

The US slapped sanctions on Maduro following the vote and on Friday US President Donald Trump said he was weighing a military response to the “very dangerous mess” in Venezuela. (the Times of Israel)

Palestinians Escalate War on Journalists

by Bassam Tawil   The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10816/palestinians-journalists-arrests

They said they did not know what “sensitive information” Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were trying to hide.

Today, it is safe to say that the situation of the freedom of the media under the PA and Hamas is not much different than that under Bashar Assad’s Syria or even North Korea.

Palestinian journalists’ hateful obsession with Israel brings them no dividends. Rather, such venomous bias diverts attention from the true challenges and threats they face from the PA and Hamas. By expending their efforts in this twisted fashion, the journalists aid and abet their leaders in building dictatorial regimes that suppress public freedoms.

As part of its overarching effort to silence critics, President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) has resumed its war against Palestinian journalists who refuse toe the line or are suspected of being insufficiently loyal to their leaders in Ramallah.

But this is nothing new: Abbas and his team have long been notoriously intolerant of news stories that reflect negatively on them in particular and on Palestinians in general.

In the past few days, PA security forces arrested six Palestinian journalists from Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron. The journalists — Mamdouh Hamamreh, Qutaiba Kassem, Tarek Abu Zeid, Amer Abu Arafeh, Thaer Al-Fakhouri and Ahmed Al-Halaykeh — are suspected of “leaking sensitive information to hostile parties.”

This is the first time that Abbas’s PA has made such a ridiculous charge against Palestinian journalists. In an attempt to justify the latest crackdown on freedom of the media, Abbas’s news agency, Wafa, published a statement by an unnamed “senior security source” who said that the detained journalists were being interrogated about their role in “leaking sensitive information to hostile parties.” The detained journalists, meanwhile, have gone on hunger strike to protest their incarceration.

Upon hearing about the baseless charge, many Palestinian journalists said they did not know whether to laugh or cry. They said they did not know what “sensitive information” Abbas and the PA were trying to hide.

“We don’t have nuclear facilities,” remarked a Palestinian journalist from east Jerusalem sarcastically. “It’s clear that the Palestinian Authority leadership is using the security issue as an excuse to justify its punitive measures against journalists.”

Another Palestinian journalist from Ramallah scoffed at the charge against his colleagues. “This is the most ridiculous claim I’ve heard in years,” he commented. “It reminds us of Arab dictators who accuse their opponents and critics of revealing state secrets and consuming narcotics.”

That the PA leadership has refused to provide further details about the nature of the offense committed by the suspected journalists has only reinforced the belief that they were targeted as part of an ongoing campaign by Abbas and his lieutenants to silence critics and deter other journalists from doing their job or reporting any story that could reflect negatively on the Palestinian leaders.

Some Palestinian journalists take a different view of the matter. These reporters trace the arrest of the six journalists to a desire to pressure Hamas to release two journalists it is holding in the Gaza Strip: Amer Abu Shabab and Fuad Jaradeh.

In other words, the PA security forces are holding the six journalists hostage until Hamas frees the two newsmen it is holding. The journalists detained by the PA work for Hamas-affiliated media outlets in the West Bank.

Notably, the two Palestinian regimes – the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip — have hardly championed freedom of speech and freedom of the media. In fact, the two parties share the same values when it comes to silencing all forms of criticism. Dozens of Palestinian journalists have been targeted over the past two decades by both the PA and Hamas.

These regimes have their own special way of defining freedom of the press. That is, the press is utterly free to blacken the name of Israel. The name of Hamas or the PA, however, is sacrosanct: criticism of either would land a Palestinian reporter behind bars or in an interrogation room.

Hamas and the PA prefer that the press pound Israel. Short of that, they tolerate journalistic critique of municipal services or the shortage of medicine in hospitals.

Today, it is safe to say that the situation of the freedom of the media under the PA and Hamas is not much different than that under Bashar Assad’s Syria or even North Korea. The failure to achieve a free media for the Palestinians is yet another sign of the Palestinian failure to build proper and transparent state institutions.

The Palestinians have no functioning parliament, no open debate and no free media. In the West Bank, the media is controlled, directly and indirectly, by Abbas and his loyalists. In the Gaza Strip, the only “media” is that which is controlled by Hamas — again, directly and indirectly.

But there is an interesting twist to the latest story of Palestinian Authority and Hamas assaults on freedom of the media. Sadly, many Palestinian journalists do not seem to care much about the harassment and suppression of their colleagues at the hands of their leaders in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip.

Instead of organizing widespread protests to demand the release of their colleagues who are being tortured by PA and Hamas interrogators, Palestinian journalists are still scapegoating Israel. Incredibly, they continue to incite against Israel despite the fact that they are being detained and tortured by the PA and Hamas.

Instead of demanding the release of their six colleagues from PA prison, some Palestinian journalists are protesting because some Israeli (Jewish) journalists came to Ramallah last week to cover the visit of Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The presence of the Israeli reporters in Ramallah enraged several Palestinian journalists, who took to social media to condemn the Palestinian Authority leadership that gave them permission to come and cover the monarch’s visit.

Such incitement was easy to find on Palestinian social media websites this week. The presence of several Israeli Arab journalists seemed to roll right over the racist, raging Palestinian journalists — it is the presence of Jewish journalists that they cannot stand.

This attack on Israeli journalists has been backed by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), a Fatah-affiliated group headed by Nasser Abu Baker, a correspondent of the evidently unprofessional Agence France-Press: Baker has also run for election in the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

In a statement published in Ramallah, the PJS strongly condemned the presence of Israeli (Jewish) journalists in Ramallah and urged Abbas to hold accountable whoever gave the Israeli journalists permission to come to the city to cover the Jordanian king’s visit.

It seems that for the PJS, the presence of Israeli (Jewish) reporters in Ramallah is more disturbing than the arrest of Palestinian journalists by the PA and Hamas.

For the record, in recent years the PJS has served as a mouthpiece for Abbas’s office; instead of defending the rights of Palestinian journalists, it devotes more than 95% of its words and actions to denouncing Israel and whipping up rage against Israeli journalists.

Palestinian journalists’ hateful obsession with Israel brings them no dividends. Rather, such venomous bias diverts attention from the true challenges and threats they face from the PA and Hamas. By expending their efforts in this twisted fashion, the reporters aid and abet their leaders in building dictatorial regimes that suppress public freedoms.

The Palestinians’ biggest problem is the Palestinians

by Boaz Bismuth   Israel Hayom

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=44599

The winds of war blowing from North Korea aren’t preventing the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump from sending his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Affairs Jason Greenblatt our way again. If he can’t have peace in the Middle East, then at least let there be winds of peace.

The Palestinian Authority is not thrilled, to say the least, with the imminent American shuttle diplomacy efforts. Israel Hayom correspondent Daniel Siryoti already reported last week on the desperation in Ramallah, where the Palestinians have concluded that the U.S. is “entirely” on Israel’s side. This conclusion is a little odd considering that over the past few months, plenty of people have tried to create the impression that Washington is expected to exert enormous pressure on Jerusalem to make concessions.

The Palestinians’ biggest problem is the Palestinians themselves — they always come up with one excuse or another (Israel, Washington, and then Israel again). Washington is really interested in making progress. Trump said so and he meant it. The Americans are opting to engage with the side that is showing willingness to work together, and, more importantly, displays a desire to give rather than just take.

The old perspective tended to put the Palestinian issue at the center. The new perspective is showing us a different way – the Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt are displaying an air of indifference, each for its own reasons, in regard to the Palestinian issue. No one is being naive; no one expects to see a wave of joy in the city squares of Jiddah, Riyadh, or even Bahrain about a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The shooting incident at the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, last month, proved just how much the Arab street is still motivated by that same old anti-Israel instinct. But something positive is happening off camera. The glass half full is the common interests shared by Israel and various Arab neighbors. The glass half empty is that it is “just” common interests. It will be very difficult to convince the Saudi royal family that it can talk to its subjects about peace with Israel. There’s still a long way to go.

But the real story here is the suspicion with which Washington and the Palestinian Authority regard each other. In Washington, despite the strong desire to see a peace deal, they understand that Ramallah can’t deliver the goods.

In Ramallah, they are convinced that the U.S. and Israel are working toward a regional move at the expense of the two-state solution. But it must be said that they came by their suspicions honestly.

A new wind is blowing from Washington these days. Eight years with former President Barack Obama sent us into defense mode. Trump, however, could get us to recalculate our course.

This is the time to move forward — if not toward peace with the Palestinians, then at least toward peace with our own conscience and with the land of Israel.

IDF Moves from “Cutting the Grass” to “Weakening the Roots” in the Fight against Terror in the Territories – Orli Goldkling and Yohai Ofer (Makor Rishon-Hebrew)

IDF Brig.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, who served for the past two years as commander of the Judea and Samaria Brigade, said, “We are changing our concept from ‘cutting the grass’ to ‘weakening the roots'” of terror in the West Bank.

“With a situation of ‘cutting the grass,’ you are always cutting it down, but it grows back. After you jail one attacker, you move on to the next attacker. We need to strengthen our deterrence and deal with the terror infrastructure so that it no longer exists. We want to reach a point where there are fewer terrorists, less incitement, fewer capabilities and infrastructure….We are working every day so that the grass doesn’t grow at all.”

“Weakening the roots” means arresting the inciters before they influence potential attackers and acting against the wider circles that support the attackers. This includes arresting the driver that drove the terrorist, withdrawing the permits that allow his family to work in Israel, confiscating funds used to support terror – all in order to deter additional terrorists.

“There have been a number of examples of parents who have turned in their children before they committed terror attacks – particularly to the Palestinian Authority security forces – out of fear that their homes would be destroyed.”

While the IDF seeks to avoid collective punishment, it has been focusing on weapons manufacturing. “Our challenge is to find the three factories that produce guns from among the seventy metal workshops in a city.”

Another target is the printing presses that publish posters calling for armed attacks on Israel or lauding “martyrs.” Carmeli explained that the IDF doesn’t just take down the posters, but arrests the printshop owners and confiscates their equipment, which leads other printshop owners to become hesitant to print such posters.

Israeli strategic analyst Dr. Eran Lerman appeared on ABC TV News 24 “The World” to discuss the Netanyahu allegations, peace prospects and regional tensions.