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Latest Israel News – 29th June

Video: Israel Had No International Border before the 1967 War. New Defensible Lines Needed to Be Negotiated. – Dore Gold

It’s very common to say, “Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders” – but there are no 1967 borders. The lines Israel inherited from the 1948 war are based on an armistice agreement that states that these are not final borders but cease-fire lines. In 1967 Israel engaged in a war of self-defense and could not be forced to withdraw to the pre-war lines from which had been attacked.

UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967 did not call for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-war lines. British Ambassador Lord Caradon said at the time: “I know the 1967 line, and it’s a rotten line. You couldn’t have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It’s where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It’s got no relation to the needs of the situation.” According to Lord Caradon, an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice line would not produce a stable diplomatic solution.

It is unfathomable today for most Israelis to put the country back in the position of being as vulnerable as it was 50 years ago. The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center, served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN and director general of the Foreign Ministry. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Biased Interview on 60 Minutes

60 minutes with their own biased one sided agenda such as saying that the Palestinians live under the “Jackboots”of the Israelis comes off second best when trying to “ínterview” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotoveli

As an Israeli mother, would you be happy living on the other side of the wall trying to bring up your family under those circumstances?”

Liam Bartlett questions Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotoveli on the ‘yawning gulf’ between the future of a young Palestinian boy versus the future of an Israeli boy

"As an Israeli mother, would you be happy living on the other side of the wall trying to bring up your family under those circumstances?"EXTRA MINUTES | Liam Bartlett questions Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotoveli on the 'yawning gulf' between the future of a young Palestinian boy versus the future of an Israeli boy. #60Mins

Posted by 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday, 25 June 2017

PMO initiates move to placate Diaspora Jews after divisive Kotel decision

Following the de facto cancellation of the Western Wall agreement on Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office has initiated a process to upgrade the current site for egalitarian prayer at the southern end of the complex.

The move is designed to placate Diaspora Jewry and the progressive Jewish denominations, but equally to ward off intervention from the High Court of Justice, which currently has a strong petition from the progressive Jewish denominations before it.

Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman issued a statement on Monday underlining that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had issued instructions to expedite the construction work to perform the necessary improvements to the site.

Sources in the PMO told The Jerusalem Post that the upgrade would be very similar to the significant renovations proposed under the original agreement that had been approved by government resolution in January 2016.

The PMO said in a statement on Sunday that “construction [work] to prepare the southern plaza will be advanced,” which Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said would involve making the current egalitarian prayer area a more suitable and dignified place for communal prayer.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday, however, that the upgrades would not include the single, joint entrance to the central Western Wall plaza that had been one of the two critical elements of the original government resolution.

The other element, concerning the administration of the egalitarian site by a committee including representatives from the progressive Jewish denominations, will also not be implemented, Bennett acknowledged.

The original resolution would have turned the current prayer area at what is known as Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall, from an informal place for non-Orthodox prayer that is currently run and funded by the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel, into a grand plaza for egalitarian prayer and a state-recognized holy site funded by the government. It is that status which the haredi political parties objected to so greatly, as well as the shared entrance.

Speaking to the Post, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Reform movement in the US, categorically rejected renovations at the Robinson’s Arch site as a solution to the dispute.

“To unilaterally decide to carry out modest renovations at this site and tell us that ‘this is what you get’ is not how partners act,” Jacobs said.

“What the PMO is considering doing at Robinson’s Arch, compared to what was agreed on, is very different; it is at a very basic level and is nothing compared to what the original resolution stipulated.”

On Sunday, Hanegbi told the Post that as well as making the site more respectable, the renovation was designed to make High Court intervention less likely.

The petition of the progressive Jewish denominations, together with the Women of the Wall organization, demands either implementation of the original Western Wall resolution or an egalitarian prayer area at the central Western Wall plaza. The petition argues that the current situation violates Israel’s laws for freedom of access and worship at the state’s holy sites, and that the facilities at Robinson’s Arch are insufficient and not a state-recognized holy site.

With work beginning on a serious upgrade to the Robinson’s Arch site, Netanyahu is clearly hoping that the High Court will have less room to intervene.  (Jerusalem Post)

Bennett, Kulanu seeking to moderate controversial haredi conversion bill

Following a massive outcry, Bayit Yehudi leader and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as the Kulanu party, is seeking to amend the controversial conversion law being advanced by the haredi political parties.

Several senior national-religious rabbis are furious that the proposed law would deal a huge blow to their conversion program designed to avert a looming intermarriage crisis in Israel with immigrants and their descendants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish according to religious law and Jewish Israelis.

These rabbis, including chairman of the Tzohar rabbinical association Rabbi David Stav, have lobbied Bennett and Justice Minister Shaked to moderate the bill advanced by Shas and United Torah Judaism so that it will not negatively impact the legal status of their conversions.

Bennett and Shaked, together with MKs from Kulanu, are now trying to amend the conversion law so that it will only prevent foreign workers and illegal immigrants from abusing conversion to gain citizenship.

Kulanu MK Roi Folkman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Shas had misrepresented its bill before the vote on it, which is why the party’s ministers had voted in favor of approving its passage to the Knesset.

The haredi conversion bill would grant the Chief Rabbinate a total monopoly over conversion in Israel, and would annul all legal standing currently granted to Orthodox conversions performed in independent Orthodox rabbinical courts as well as for Reform and Conservative conversions.

It was approved for passage to the Knesset on Sunday by the government but that process has been stalled by an appeal for a vote in the full cabinet by Yisrael Beytenu which fiercely oppose the legislation.

Currently, converts who chose to convert in independent rabbinical courts instead of the state conversion authority which is guided by the Chief Rabbinate can register as Jewish in the Interior Ministry and can gain citizenship through the Law of Return if they not already citizens.

Reform and Conservative converts can also register as Jewish in the Interior Ministry, and the these denominations hope that the High Court of Justice will rule in favor of their petition demanding citizenship for their non-citizen converts through the Law of Return as well.

Stav and the other leading rabbis who established the Giyur Kahalacha independent Orthodox conversion court in 2015 see the legal standing afforded their conversions by a High Court ruling last year as critical to their efforts to eventually force the Chief Rabbinate to register their converts for marriage.

The argument made by Shas at the meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday which approved the bill was that the state should not give the keys to citizenship to non-state actors, so Bayit Yehudi is trying to amend the bill so that it deals with this issue alone.

In truth however, Giyur Kahalacha and the progressive Jewish movements have said they are not interested in converting foreigners.

Folkman said Kulanu would support a law preventing refugees and illegal immigrants from getting citizenship through conversion, but said that the party was working with Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu to make Shas’ legislation “more reasonable and balanced.”

He would not say however how the party would vote on the bill if such a goal was not obtained, noting that “at the end of the day, Kulanu only has 10 seats.”  (Jerusalem Post)

In Knesset, Diaspora leaders vow to undo Western Wall decision

Dozens of Diaspora leaders and Israeli politicians — from the opposition and the coalition — vowed on Tuesday to fight the government’s decision to walk back its commitment to building an egalitarian prayer pavilion at the Western Wall.

At a hastily organized “emergency meeting” of the Knesset’s caucus for strengthening Israel’s relations with world Jewry, no concrete moves were announced to topple the decision, but representatives of Diaspora communities promised they would not rest until Sunday’s cabinet vote is overturned.

Yet they assured their Israeli hosts that their commitment to the unity of the Jewish people and their support for the State of Israel remain sacrosanct. At one point, the participants spontaneously started singing, “Hineh ma tov uma na’im shevet ahim gam yahad” (“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity”).

In a relatively calm session — there was only one shouting match during the two-and-a-half hour debate, which is almost unheard-of in Israel’s parliament — opposition lawmakers sharply criticized the government’s about-face regarding non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall. Representatives of the governing coalition tried to reassure the incensed Diaspora leaders that the last word has not been spoken on the ruptured deal, implying that it was still possible to overturn Sunday’s cabinet vote and return to the status quo ante.

“It’s a watershed [moment]. I feel disgraced by the government’s decision and I and so many Jewish people around the world feel offended. Therefore, we must not be polite,” said opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

“The Wailing Wall has seen pain for 2,000 years. It has seen tears, divides, it has seen tragedies. It has also seen the reunification of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. And now it has become a place of division for our people, and that’s unacceptable.”

Herzog slammed the government for not having “the guts and the courage to say stop,” and to stand up to the demands of the ultra-Orthodox factions, which opposed the January 2016 agreement that called for a significant upgrade to the non-Orthodox prayer platform at the holy site.

“This is a disgrace and I offer my apologies together with so many Israelis who believe that there should be equality for all,” Herzog said. “We must do whatever we can to change this dangerous course. It’s a course that could lead to a difficult division in our people and undermine the strength of Israel.”

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who had sharply criticized the government’s decision to freeze an agreement he worked for years to negotiate, in his remarks focused on the fact that Tuesday’s “emergency meeting” brought Israeli lawmakers and Jewish leaders into a room on such short notice. “I very often was upset that we don’t have discussions over Diaspora-Israel relations inside the Knesset. I’m very happy that this time it’s different. But the reasons that made this meeting possible are very, very unfortunate,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Diplomacy Michael Oren recalled that he grew up in the Conservative Movement, then joined the Reform Movement and later a Modern Orthodox community.

“[Israel] was created as a homeland for the Jewish people, not as a homeland for the Jewish religion, but for the Jewish people, irrespective of how they practice or choose not to practice their religion. And the arrangement at the Wall was the realization of that Zionist ideal,” he said.

Suspending the agreement on the Western Wall not only “goes against the very raison d’être of what this country is about” but would also harm Israel’s economic and security interests, he argued.

Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, vowed to fight his own coalition’s policy. “This is only the first round,” he said. “This is a battle for Israel’s soul, nothing less. And I am proud to stand with Jewish leaders and friends from around the world in fighting that battle. And I am convinced that we will win.”

Michael Siegal, who just a day earlier was elected chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, pledged not give up fighting the government’s decision.

“This issue is not going to go away for us,” he said. “There is always this thought that these are the headlines of today, and tomorrow maybe Scuds falling here, or rockets falling there, and that the media will move on to the next story and that we will forget about it, and that’s not that big of a deal. We are committed to a course of action here to overturn these really kind of repugnant decisions.”

Likud MK Avraham Neguise said that Israel should embrace all Jews irrespective of their religious orientation, but when he insisted that the current crisis was “not a political issue,” lawmakers from the opposition Yesh Atid party started shouting that it was his prime minister who was responsible for it.

He countered that it was the current government that had reached the agreement, indicating that it will once again find a way to bridge the gaps.

While he didn’t mask his opposition to the government’s decision, Richard Sandler, the president of the Jewish Federations of North America, stressed that he “will not allow our constituencies at home abuse this crisis for their own agendas.” Some Jews may be angrily protesting Sunday’s cabinet vote and promising to cancel donations and trips to Israel, but “most are not,” he said.

North American Jews are speaking up for Israel in Congress, on campuses and in the media, he added, “but whatever we do to defend you is just a fraction of what you do to defend us.”

The president of the Union of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, said there were more than 3 million Reform and Conservative Jews in the US “who love the State of Israel” but now feel delegitimized and “pushed away” by the government in Jerusalem.

“Freedom of religion is not a nice favor that the government of Israeli government might extend to us like a cookie. It’s a right. It’s a right in a Jewish democratic state. And that’s worth fighting for,” he said.

Likud MK Benny Begin said the Western Wall was primarily a “national site” that inspires him to connect with his ancestors and Jewish people all over the world. While expressing some understanding that the prime minister has to navigate a complicated coalition system, he said that all religious streams should be allowed to pray there as they see fit.

“I am very sorry for the recent developments. I am deeply sorry,” he said. He added, however, that the 2016 compromise “did not fall apart” and could yet be revived.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who was tasked by Netanyahu to head a team trying to negotiate a new agreement, spoke at the end of the mammoth session, which was conducted entirely in English.

“In my new capacity as the magician, or maybe Tom Cruise in ‘Mission Impossible,’ I have to listen more and speak less,” he said at the beginning of his remarks. He went on to state that, personally, he thought the agreement over the Western Wall was “genius, perfect, because everyone supported and opposed it with the same passion.”

January 2016, when the deal was made, “felt like a moment of goodwill,” he said, though soon after it became clear that it “would be very difficult to implement it” due to the pressure from the ultra-Orthodox factions in the coalition.

“I still believe that it’s a good compromise. It didn’t evaporate. Maybe it was put on hold because of the legal issues that you’re all aware of, but it’s definitely there, waiting for the renewal of the dialogue.” (the Times of Israel)

PA official: NGOs to bypass US pressure against paying terrorists

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has possibly found a way to circumvent U.S. pressure to stop payments to security prisoners and terrorists’ families.

The Palestinian Authority spends millions of dollars annually paying stipends to the families of terrorists who are either jailed in Israel or were killed while carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis, a practice Israel has repeatedly condemned.

In a meeting in Ramallah earlier this week, U.S. envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt asked Abbas to cease this practice. Kushner and Greenblatt entered the meeting with specific salary charts that had been prepared by Israel in advance.

Senior Palestinian officials described the meeting as “tense” and said Abbas tried explaining to his guests that it was not the PA paying the stipends, but rather the so-called Palestinian Prisoners Society through a special national fund.

During the meeting, Abbas also stressed that the Palestinians had recently stopped paying hundreds of Hamas prisoners released as part of the 2011 Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange, and that the PA also intends to stop paying 600 additional prisoners who are serving life sentences in Israel over their direct involvement in terrorist attacks.

However, while it appears Abbas conceded to American demands, the story is far more complex. Senior Palestinian officials told Israel Hayom that Abbas has no intention of suspending the payments. Instead, said one senior PA official, Abbas has designed a bureaucratic ploy to continue the payments.

According to the official, Abbas’ ruse was to dismantle the Palestinian Prisoners Society, founded in 2014 as a branch of the Palestine Liberation Organization in order to deflect criticism against the PA for paying stipends to security prisoners and terrorists, and have its mechanisms integrated into Ramallah’s Interior Ministry, all while dozens of other nongovernmental organizations and associations will be established to replace the PPS. The new NGOs will receive hundreds of millions of dollars with which to pay imprisoned and released terrorists, and terrorists’ families.

The issue of security prisoners is a Palestinian consensus, as it touches almost every family in the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas adviser Nabil Shaath aptly described the situation Thursday at the Herzliya Conference, saying, “The salaries we pay to prisoners and their families are our social responsibility. These are innocent people who were impacted by the murder of a loved one or imprisonment because of the occupation.”

According to Palestinian law, all Palestinians imprisoned in Israel for terror-related crimes, including Arab Israelis, are eligible to receive monthly salaries from the PA. The salaries range between 1,300 shekels ($370) and 12,000 shekels ($3,400) per month.

The law also obligates the PA to pay monthly pensions to released prisoners and families of Palestinians killed while perpetrating terrorist activity.  (Israel Hayom)

Israel, Hamas in advanced talks over prisoner swap — report

Israel and Hamas have reportedly been engaged in intensive indirect talks recently over the release of a number of Israeli nationals held captive by the terror group in Gaza.

The talks, which are being mediated by an unnamed third party, have gathered momentum over the past two weeks, following the return of Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, from a visit to Egypt earlier this month, Channel 1 reported Monday.

While in Egypt, Sinwar met with a number of officials, as well as former senior Fatah official Mohammad Dahlan, who was involved in the 2011 deal that led to the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Egypt has previously been named in reports as the country mediating between the two sides.

In April, then Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal hinted that a prisoner exchange was in the works between the two sides, while in February Hamas confirmed that it was engaged in talks through third-party mediators over a possible agreement, but said a deal had been rejected for not meeting its minimum demands.

Hamas’s confirmation of the talks followed Israeli media reports that Israel was seeking to reach a deal with the rulers of the Gaza Strip to secure the release of three Israeli men who crossed into the coastal territory of their own accord: Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima, whose presence in Gaza is unconfirmed.

Hamas, an Islamist terror group, also holds the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who the army determined were killed in action in the 2014 Gaza war.

Hamas demands that Israel release all prisoners from the 2011 exchange for Gilad Shalit who were rearrested in 2014 when three Israeli teens were abducted in the West Bank (it later emerged that they had been killed almost immediately) before any advancement in negotiations between the parties can take place.

The report came against a backdrop of fears of escalation in the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area in southern Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.

In response to the launch, which was claimed by a Salafist group linked to the Islamic State, the Israeli Air Force carried out a number of strikes that the army said targeted Hamas infrastructure targets.

On Tuesday, Hamas condemned the Israeli airstrikes, saying that they were part of a “dangerous Israeli game.”

“The Israeli claim of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and the publication of a bulletin in the name of the Islamic State in order to create a pretext for the attack is a transparent and dangerous Israeli game,” the group said.                (the Times of Israel)

Shin Bet chief warns of ‘real world surprises’ if cyber attackers go after Israel

Cyber attackers “can expect real world surprises” if they go after Israel, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman told a Tel Aviv University cyber conference on Tuesday.

“Our defense does not recognize any borders… We follow threats everywhere… We connect the cyber and the physical world,” Argaman said in his first public remarks on cyber issues since taking over the agency in May 2016.

“We do not just wait to get hacked. We go aggressively after hackers to get them before they attack,” the Shin Bet director said.

He said the agency had “used cyber intelligence to stop many real world attacks,” including identifying 2,000 potential “lone-wolf” threats in 2016.

Responses to these threats could include a combination of Shin Bet arrests, those by the Palestinian Authority, as well as other forms of warnings to persons with profiles and social media indications that the agency views as at risk of becoming a lone-wolf attacker.

In March, Argaman said the Shin Bet’s cyber efforts had led to 402 arrests of potential lone-wolf attackers.

Moreover, the agency has stopped dozens of serious cyber attacks.

Throughout the world, he said, “we have recently seen cyber attacks on infrastructure, hacking of car

Part of what makes the cyber threat so dangerous is that attacks are “faster than most terror attacks” and attackers can also re-attack quickly if their first attempt is thwarted.

He also described “the asymmetry between the ease of the attacker to cause trouble” and the investment defenders must put it to thwart attacks.

Further, he noted that many states are using non-state actors and unaffiliated surrogates to cause major cyber damage.

Cyber defense “requires unprecedented cooperation” between the Shin Bet, IDF and Mossad and with foreign intelligence agencies, the private sector and academia,” he said.

Argaman indicated that the Shin Bet is “in the midst of a revolution, changing its technology department into a combined cyber-technology department.” Some 25% of the Shin Bet are now technologists, he said.

“We are getting the best hackers, and competing” with the private sector for them, he told the gathering Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, meanwhile, called for a task force composed of representatives of the Shin Bet, IDF and Mossad to focus on safe-guarding Israeli elections.

The task force should issue a report to President Reuven Rivlin since he is unaffiliated with political parties, he said.

Lapid told attendees this was necessary after the US and French elections were manipulated and with expectations that the next German election will be hacked, as well.

The Yesh Atid leader said, sarcastically: “What a plus it would be for the enemy to decide” who will be Israel’s prime minister.

He also warned about “fake news” manipulating elections, asserting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had used fake news in the last vote when he distributed a message that droves of Arabs were being bused to the voting booths. The impact of a foreign government using such tactics, he said, would be far worse.

“It is easier to hack newspapers or television stations than the Pentagon or the Mossad,” but this can also do major damage, Lapid said. (Jerusalem Post)

Australian billionaire to be questioned in PM gifts probe

Police will question Australian billionaire investor James Packer in the coming days in the investigation over suspicions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted gifts in an illegal manner from businessmen totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday.

Police have been trying for months to obtain testimony from Packer, but because he frequently travels the world on his yacht, it has been difficult to bring him in for questioning.

Investigators suspect that Packer gave Netanyahu’s son Yair gifts, including free hotel rooms and flights, in an illegal manner.

The investigation, termed Case 1000, mainly deals with allegations that Netanyahu illegally accepted expensive cigars and gourmet meals from Israeli-born Hollywood movie mogul Arnon Milchan.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, repeatedly saying that any items he received were only gifts from friends and that: “There will be nothing, because there is nothing.”

Two officials contacted by The Jerusalem Post declined to comment on the investigation.

Eleven people have testified to police in the case in recent weeks, according to the Channel 2 report. The Justice Ministry has already decided not to indict Netanyahu for just receiving gifts, but only if it suspects he acted in a conflict of interest, according to the report.

Liat Ben-Ari, the Tel Aviv Economic Crimes Division director who is heading the Justice Ministry’s investigation into Case 1000, said in May: “When we are referring to presents worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, it is hard for me to accept that we are talking solely about presents between friends.”

Multiple Hebrew media reports have said police will recommend indicting the premier in the gifts probe, but Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has the final word.

The prime minister already has been questioned under caution several times in Case 1000.

He is also being investigated in Case 2000, which allegedly involves a form of media bribery. US billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, gave testimony to police in Case 2000 this week.  (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians: Why Abbas Cannot Stop Funding Terrorists

by Bassam Tawil                The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10583/palestinians-funding-terrorists

This is their way of expressing their gratitude to those who have chosen to “sacrifice” their lives by trying to murder Jews. It is also their way of encouraging young people to join the war of terrorism against Israel. The financial aid sends a specific message: Palestinians who are prepared to die in the service of murdering Jews need not worry about the welfare of their families.

The more years a Fatah terrorist serves in Israeli prison, the higher the salary he or she receives. Some Fatah terrorists held in Israeli prison are said to receive monthly stipends of up to $4,000. Many of them are also rewarded with top jobs in both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Why should any Palestinian go to university and search for a job when he can make a “decent living” murdering Jews?

Such a plan to dry up the funds that support terrorists and their families, is doomed from the start unless these leaders reverse their behavior and embark on a process of de-radicalizing their people.

For the record, this is not a defense of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas or of funding terrorists. It is simply an explanation of what is taking place. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the idea of ending payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families is a challenging one, to say the least. Old habits, especially of hate, are hard to break.

The practice of paying salaries to terrorists and the families of “martyrs” is as old as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was founded in 1964. It did not start after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994. Nor did this practice start after Abbas was elected as president of the PA in January 2005.

Prior to the establishment of the PA, the PLO relied solely on Arab and Islamic financial aid to pay salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of those killed in terror attacks against Israel.

But after most of the Arab countries turned their backs on the PLO, following its support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent establishment of the PA, the Europeans and Americans became the major donors to the Palestinians — including payments to the terrorists and their families.

The PLO is not the only organization that rewards terrorists and their families. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups have also been paying monthly stipends to terrorists and their kin. This is their way of expressing their gratitude to those who have chosen to “sacrifice” their lives by trying to murder Jews. It is also their way of encouraging young people to join the war of terrorism against Israel. The financial aid sends a specific message: Palestinians who are prepared to die in the service of murdering Jews need not worry about the welfare of their families.

In the past few decades, various Palestinian groups have used the payments to buy loyalty and recruit new members. Because Fatah — the dominant party of the PA — has always reaped the largest share of Arab, Islamic and Western donations, it was able to recruit the largest number of loyalists and members. Headed by Abbas, Fatah terrorists receive the highest salaries for their “contribution” to the Palestinian cause.

The more years a Fatah terrorist serves in Israeli prison, the higher the salary he or she receives. Some Fatah terrorists held in Israeli prison are said to receive monthly stipends of up to $4,000. Many of them are also rewarded with top jobs in both Fatah and the PA.

Take, for example, the case of Karim Younes, a Fatah terrorist who has been in prison for over three decades for kidnapping and murdering an Israeli soldier. Recently, Younes was appointed as member of the Fatah Central Committee, one of a number of key decision-making bodies dominated by Abbas loyalists. As a member of the Fatah Central Committee, Younes will now be entitled to thousands of dollars each month.

In his recent meeting with US presidential envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah, an enraged Mahmoud Abbas rejected their demand that he halt payments to terrorists and their families.

Some of Abbas’s aides have gone as far as describing the demand as “crazy,” arguing that it will instigate instability and turn many Palestinians against their leaders. One of Abbas’s advisors was quoted as accusing Kushner and Greenblatt of serving as “advisors” to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abbas is also well aware that his life would be in danger if he stops the payments, because he will be killed by the same terrorists he and other Palestinian leaders have been praising and promoting for many years.

Abbas’s argument that halting the payments would turn his people against him is not baseless. In fact, in an attempt to appease Israel and the Trump Administration, Abbas has already cut off payments to scores of terrorists and their families, particularly those who are not necessarily associated with his Fatah faction.

In the past few weeks, dozens of former Palestinian prisoners and their families have staged daily protests against Abbas’s decision to cut off their salaries. They are accusing Abbas of bowing to Israeli and American pressure, with some dubbing him a “traitor.”

Abbas and other Palestinian leaders can only blame themselves, however, for the backlash on the Palestinian street following the decision to halt the payment of salaries to some terrorists and their families. After all, it was these leaders who in the first place recruited the terrorists and encouraged them to launch terror attacks against Israel, and promised that they would care for their families if they were imprisoned or killed. For decades, Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have heaped praise on Palestinian terrorists, calling them “heroes” and “freedom fighters” who sacrifice for their people. The “sacrifice,” to clarify, means murdering and wounding Jews.

Under Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, countless institutions have been established to support terrorists and their families. At one point, they even set up a special ministry called the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. Its main goal: “to ensure a decent life for prisoners and care for their children and their families.” Why should any Palestinian go to university and search for a job when he can make a “decent living” murdering Jews?

In 2014, after protests from Western donors, Abbas abolished the ministry. However, the decision turned out to be nothing but a cosmetic change intended to dupe the donors. The ministry continues to function, but under a different name: Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. Abbas defended the decision by claiming that the new commission was now part of the PLO, and not the PA government. This is like claiming that the House of Representatives and the Senate are two different bodies that are not linked to the United States government.

Palestinian terrorists have become an integral part of a culture that has long been glorifying and promoting acts of terrorism against Israel. Generation after generation, Palestinians have been taught that prisoners and terrorists killed by Israel are the “esteemed sons of the revolution,” the “untouchables.” The official Palestinian narrative is that these men were imprisoned or killed for nothing but “resisting Israel.” This narrative has successfully concealed the truth concerning the imprisonment or death of Palestinian terrorists.

Faced with a new reality in which many in the international community are no longer willing to have their taxpayer money designated for terrorists and their families, Abbas now finds himself trapped between what for him are two terrible moves.

He is currently scurrying to explain to his people why suddenly it has become hard to pay salaries to the very terrorists he trained and continues to glorify by naming streets, public squares and sports centers after them. His people, of course, do not buy his excuses, and many are accusing him of serving Israeli and American interests by abandoning the “good boys” of the “revolution.”

It will take a long time, and a massive shift in attitude, before Abbas or any other Palestinian leader manages to dry up the funds that support terrorists and their families. Such a plan is doomed from the start, unless these leaders reverse their behavior and embark on a process of de-radicalizing their people. This will require a drastic about-face in their existing narrative of violence, as well as a move toward a culture of peace — precisely the issue about which Abbas recently lied so disrespectfully when meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Judging from Abbas’s rage-response to the demand to halt payments to terrorists and their families, it seems that Abbas and his cohorts in Ramallah plan to continue their same old antics.

Israeli government takes a wrong turn at the Kotel

Zionist Union lawmaker says the Israeli government has made a mistake, but the Jewish People have not.

By Yoel Hasson           The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Israeli-government-takes-a-wrong-turn-at-the-Kotel-497997

The Israeli government took another wrong turn. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers decided to freeze the pluralistic Western Wall agreement and stop promoting plans to build and renovate the egalitarian prayer area at the Kotel.

The irony in this decision speaks for itself. A year and a half ago, this very government decided to establish the mixed-gender area of the Kotel. Netanyahu himself explained on January 31, 2016 that this solution was appropriate and could finally unite the Jewish People.

You might wonder what has happened here exactly? How come did the prime minister and his government flipped their opinion so rapidly and so radically from one year to another?

Well, nothing happened. Even after the government accepted the historic pluralistic agreement last year, it did nothing to implement it. Once again, as it has done in countless other opportunities, this government failed to stand up to its word and proved itself rather inefficient and irresponsible.

Netanyahu’s government, much like Netanyahu himself, is perpetually afraid of coalition disagreements and is paralyzed by the smallest signs of coalition crisis. As a result, whenever this government finds itself on the edge of deciding or implementing a major decision, it backs down and abandons any of its former principles.

This tragic pattern of Netanyahu’s government might actually be the good news for the Jewish Diaspora. The massive political pressure that was placed on this government by the ultra-orthodox parties clearly did its part. Lacking any real vision for the future and just yearning to keep being in office forever, Netanyahu gives in whenever anybody pressure him.

Leading international progressive Jewish organizations, the Jewish Agency and the Israeli opposition loudly denounced the government’s decision and urged it to reinstate the Western Wall deal as soon as possible. In the days and weeks to come, this pressure must increase so the government can realize the gravity of its mistake and change its unjust and unfair decision.

We cannot allow ourselves to give up now. The Israeli government has made a mistake, but the Jewish People have not. If we keep working together, both in Israel and around the world, I am certain that we will be able to change this decision and finally create a future, in which every Jew will be free to practice his or her belief in the heart of Jerusalem, in the Jewish faith’s holiest site, the Western Wall.

The rise of inflexible progressivism

In a turnabout, Zionism has been replaced by scorn for the Jewish state

By Herbert London                   The Washington Times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/27/zionism-has-been-replaced-by-anti-semitism-against/

As a young man coming from a left-wing pedigree, I embraced a liberal agenda which included most notably, a belief in Israel as a bastion of socialism and democracy. In the 1950s, a good progressive was a good Zionist. Oh, how the world has changed. Now a progressive has moved 180 degrees to an anti-Zionist position. As one wag put it, the left is now the congenial home of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Linda Sarsour, the leader of the Woman’s March in Washington and a commencement speaker at the City University of New York, clearly embodies the new spirit on the left. She has praised Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, once anathema to liberals. She has honored Embrased Rasmesh Odeh, a terrorist murderer. She has spoken in favor of Shariah finance. One of the supporters of Ms. Sarsour said, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.”

What is truly remarkable, and to some degree ideologically shattering, is that The New York Times wrote a fawning profile about this woman who challenges all liberal principles. She had the audacity to say that “the vagina of Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be taken away,” the same Ayaan who has worked so hard to promote women’s rights throughout the Muslim world. Yet the Anti-Defamation League defends Ms. Sarsour. Why do liberals not recognize that the Muslim countries do not give women and people in the LGBT community the same civil rights that Israel does?

For the left, Zionism has promoted Islamophobia — a false critique from the standpoint of Islamists. As a consequence, anti-Semitism is rendered a virtue, as a way to discourage negative sentiment about Islam. Yet even when the evidence of anti-Semitism is incontrovertible, the left contends anti-Semitism is a figment of a hysterical, oversensitive imagination. For the most part, Jews are being systematically written out of the progressive agenda, even though they were responsible for that agenda in the first place. But why quibble?

This new age, already upon us, has sheltered many Jews from the harsh reality of contemporary progressivism. Jews still gravitate to a Democratic Party led by two men (Tom Perez and Keith Ellison) avowedly anti-Zionist. In casual conversation, Jews will say Democrats represent grass-roots movements and people. However, it is important to note the party of the hard left is the government party relying on rules and mandates imposed by Washington D.C. bureaucrats. It no longer represents the blue-collar worker who built the party during the New Deal.

At the Chicago “Dyke March” held recently, Jewish pride flags were banned because Jews “made people feel unsafe” and, after all, the march was pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist. The irony is that the Dyke March preaches inclusion and is billed as “anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led grass-roots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual and transgender resilience.” Yes, the march includes every permutation of homosexuality, but it does not include Jews, presumably these are the people found to be “offensive.”

In January 2016, a Shabbat service and reception for Jewish participants at a gay conference in Chicago was disrupted by hundreds of protesters who chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, pinkwashing has got to go.” Pinkwashing is a term to describe efforts by Israel to cover up its treatment of Palestinians by touting its strong record on gay rights. What the incident shows is that even on gay rights Israel will not be given the benefit of the doubt because anti-Zionism trumps homosexual acceptance.

That progressives would find common quarter with Islamists is the shocking part of this ideological evolution. Obviously, secularism has played a role for many Jews. But the Anti-Defamation League’s support for the Council on American — Islamic Relations is nothing short of jarring, despite the extent of Jewish secularization.

To have been a progressive and to see how the word and movement have gone through the caldron of ideological change demonstrates the influence of Orwellian logic. Orthodoxy is liberalism, dogma is openness; Shariah is expansive. Who would have thought that the modern Jew would imbibe this logic? But as Norman Podhoretz noted in his splendid book, “Why Are Jews Liberals?” Jews are liberal because liberalism is the new religion of Jews.

The Harm in Trying: The Downside of the Middle East “Peace Process” – Elliott Abrams (Weekly Standard)

Among Israelis and Palestinians, there’s little optimism about renewed American efforts to negotiate a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The Trump administration is operating under the assumption that there is no harm in trying, but that conclusion is wrong, as round after round of terrorism should attest.

To begin with, it is always harmful for the U.S. to fail. When a president devotes himself to any project and fails to pull it off, his influence and that of the U.S. are diminished. With U.S. influence on the wane in recent years, devoting significant effort to a goal that is unlikely to be attained looks like a misplaced priority.

What’s more, the U.S. has been championing the “peace process” since 1991. What this produces is cynicism about peace talks and about peace. Many Israelis see it as a shield protecting Palestinian malfeasance.

Moreover, when each successive American administration works for a comprehensive peace deal, it tends to neglect the many opportunities to make less dramatic but still consequential real-world progress. If the goal were instead to leave things better than we found them, every incremental bit of progress would be a victory.

That was the “bottom-up” approach taken by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who thought Palestinian independence required building the institutions of a viable state first.

The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009.