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Latest News in Israel – 13th January

Qatar mediating Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange

Credit: Jerusalem Post

Mengistu, Goldin and Shaul.

Mengistu, Goldin and Shaul.

Qatar is mediating a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab weekly reported on Wednesday.

The report cited quotes by Hamas officials in which Qatar mediated discussions between the two sides in order to sign an agreement which would include the release of the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, as well as Israeli civilians Avraham Mengistu and Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima, who strayed into the Gaza Strip in September 2014 and July 2016, respectively.

According to the report, Israel agreed to a Hamas demand, that it release security prisoners who were previously released in the Gilad Schalit deal, on condition that they be deported to Gaza or Qatar. These prisoners released in the Schalit deal were subsequently re-arrested during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, after they violated the terms of their release.

Recently, a senior Hamas official hinted that one of the soldiers said to have been killed in the 2014 war, and whose body is believed to be held by Hamas, is still alive. However, the terrorist organization has refused to release further details or confirmation. Earlier, Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar stated that what Hamas holds in its hands would force Israel to comply with its demands.

At the beginning of the month, the security cabinet met to discuss ways to return the bodies of slain soldiers along with Israeli civilians held in the Gaza Strip, and unanimously agreed on a plan of action to promote the issue. Members of the cabinet decided that, until this happens, the bodies of Hamas terrorists would not be given to the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza enclave, but buried in Israel.

The Goldin family launched a campaign in June, calling for Israel and the international community to ensure the return of their son’s body.

“Hadar fell into captivity during a UN-brokered cease-fire. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the UN Security Council bear full responsibility for bringing Hadar back,” Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s father, said at a press conference in Tel Aviv.

Following the press conference, Simcha, and his wife, Leah, flew to New York to bring the issue to the attention of the 71st meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Leah Goldin said she believes that the UN can pressure Hamas to return her son’s body. “We know the UN can pressure Hamas until the latter can no longer bear the cost of continuing to hold our son’s body.” (Jerusalem Post)

IDF: Hamas hacked soldiers’ phones by posing as pretty girls

credit: Times of Israel

Fake profile pictures, stolen from women in Israel and Europe that were used to trick IDF soldiers into revealing sensitive information.

The Israel Defense Forces uncovered a plot in which Hamas members posed as attractive women on social media in order to trick soldiers into revealing sensitive military information, a senior intelligence official said Wednesday.

The Military Intelligence officer would not reveal the exact number of soldiers affected by these attacks, which took place over the last few months, but said it was “many dozens.”

“There is, of course, a potential of serious harm to national security, but the damage that was actually done was minor,” the official said.

The Hamas hackers also posed as army veterans in some of the attacks.

At this point, the official said, the plot is considered foiled, and no additional soldiers have been hacked.

‘Anyone who was infected, is not infected anymore. If it comes up again, we’ll ‘mow the grass’ again’

However, the officer noted, “we don’t know everything.”

In a type of attack known as “catfishing,” the Hamas hackers set up fake profiles on social media, mostly on Facebook, using stolen photos of young, attractive girls from Israel and Europe. The profiles had Israeli-sounding names like Amit Cohen, Naama Sheva or Eliana Amar.

Fake profile pictures, stolen from women in Israel and Europe that were used to trick IDF soldiers into revealing sensitive information. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Fake profile pictures stolen from women in Israel and Europe that were used to trick IDF soldiers into revealing sensitive information. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

With these profiles, the hackers contacted IDF soldiers — nearly all of them male, but also a handful of women — and started chatting with them in high-level Hebrew, using the latest Israeli slang. They would send photos, some of them risque, in order to maintain the connection, the officer said.

At a certain point, they would ask the soldier to use an “app store” known as Apkpk to download software to continue chatting, telling them they couldn’t download WhatsApp or other popular communication apps.

The applications, which had names like YeeCall Pro, SR Chat and Wowo messenger, were in fact “Trojan horse” programs that gave the Hamas hackers control over the soldiers’ cellphones, allowing them to download contacts and files, GPS data, photographs, collect text messages and install additional applications on the device.

With full control of the smartphone, the hackers could take pictures — of offices, the insides of tanks or computer screens — without the soldiers’ knowing, uploading them “to the cloud,” the officer said.

In other cases, the hackers posed as former and current IDF soldiers and tried to join different army units’ Facebook groups.

There are approximately 3,000 Facebook groups set up by IDF soldiers and veterans to stay in touch with their platoons and companies, the official said, and hundreds of them were infiltrated in this fashion.

In addition, Hamas gathered intelligence by following soldiers on social media and collecting the sensitive information they posted publicly.

Despite army regulations forbidding the practice, soldiers regularly post pictures from their bases on social media.

“In this day and age, that’s legitimate, that’s fine. But there are some times when a line is crossed,” the official said.

Using examples from Instagram, the officer showed soldiers who posted the code names for military exercises, included GPS data or had classified equipment in the background of the picture.

According to the officer, Hamas hoped to use the soldiers’ phones, these military Facebook groups and the public social media posts in order to gather “intelligence, information about operations, about exercises, about our preparedness for war.”

The covert Hamas efforts did not appear to be similar to a 2001 case in which Ofir Rahum, a 16-year-old Israeli, was murdered outside Ramallah by members of the Tanzim faction of Fatah, having been lured there by a PLO member who, pretending to be a Jewish girl, had chatted with Rahum on the ICQ messaging application.

Hamas specifically tried to target people who were serving near the Gaza Strip, where the terrorist group is deeply entrenched, the officer said, but the hacked soldiers came from all over the military.

According to the official, “most of the people affected were conscripts; a few were career soldiers. And most were combat soldiers, while a few were noncombat staff soldiers.”

The highest-ranking person hacked was a major, but the vast majority were low-level soldiers, he said.

The army said it became aware of the Hamas plot after receiving reports from female soldiers that someone had set up a Facebook profile with their picture or from soldiers who said they were contacted by “suspicious characters” on the internet.

Once the army uncovered the hacking effort, the information security branch of Military Intelligence, along with the Shin Bet security service and the IDF Teleprocessing Corps, launched “Operation Hunters Battle” to locate and identify the people responsible, the official said.

The army found “dozens of Hamas profiles” on social media and was able to “track their efforts in order to understand what tactics they were using,” he said.

As part of “Operation Hunters Battle,” the IDF also made its social media policies for soldiers more stringent, increased the amount of education on the topic for both conscripts and reservists and opened a call center for soldiers concerned they have been hacked.

“We revealed this plot in order to raise awareness about the issue,” the officer said.

As part of the army’s more strict social media policy, soldiers with top secret clearance, as well as officers from the rank of major, cannot post pictures of themselves in uniform or identify as soldiers on the internet.

“We’re teaching soldiers only to accept as friends people that they know, to download applications only from official stores,” he added. (the Times of Israel)

Widow of Terrorist Who Committed Deadly Jerusalem Truck-Ramming Attack to Receive $760 Lifetime Monthly Allowance From Palestinian Authority

The widow of the terrorist who committed Sunday’s truck-ramming attack at the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem, killing four Israeli soldiers and wounding another 15, will receive a lifetime monthly stipend as a reward for her husband’s “martyrdom for Allah,” a prominent research organization reported on Wednesday.

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Fadi al-Qanbar’s widow, a resident of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood in east Jerusalem, will receive a total of NIS 2,900 (approximately $760) each month, in accordance with Palestinian Authority law.

All families of “martyrs” receive a base monthly payment of NIS 1,400 ($365). Widows of “martyrs” receive an additional NIS 400 ($104). NIS 200 ($52) is paid for each of their children; al-Qanbar has four. And Jerusalem residents, such as al-Qanbar, receive an extra NIS 300 ($78).

In addition, within the next few months, al-Qanbar’s widow will receive a one-time grant of NIS 6,000 ($1,580).

In October, US Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dan Coats (R-IN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the Taylor Force Act — named after the American military veteran who was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in March by a Palestinian terrorist — which would cut off funding to the PA if it continues its policy of dispensing monetary rewards for terrorism.

In an editorial the following month, the Wall Street Journal called on the incoming Trump administration to “send a powerful message” and back the bill, stating: “The truth is these payments are blood-soaked gifts from a Palestinian leadership still devoted more to destroying Israel than to building a Palestinian state.”

This week’s truck-ramming attack — for which al-Qanbar’s family will receive a monetary award — was the most serious of the latest acts of violence against Israelis in the Palestinian terror wave that began a year ago in September. Commonly known as the “lone-wolf” or “knife” intifada, it has been characterized by stabbings, car-rammings, Molotov-cocktail throwing and arson.

The victims of the attack by 28-year-old al-Qanbar, announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an ISIS supporter, were: officer Yael Yekutiel, 20, and cadets Shir Hajaj, 22, Shira Tzur, 20, and Erez Orbach, 20 — all of whom were buried on Monday.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Palestinians took to the streets and social media on Sunday to celebrate the carnage, and many were festively handing out sweets to mark the occasion. (the Algemeiner)

Likud minister testifies in Netanyahu investigation

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin was questioned by police on Sunday as part of a corruption investigation, termed Case 2000, into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged dealings with Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes.

Levin, from the Likud, was questioned on his role in promoting legislation in 2014 termed the “Israel Hayom bill,” which sought to end the paper’s free distribution, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday. The bill did not become law.

At a meeting of the Likud faction on Wednesday night, the prime minister said he would not provide information on the matter, but was “aware of all the details,” reiterating what he has said throughout the investigation: “There will be nothing, because there is nothing.” Netanyahu discussed reducing the amount of commercial ads in Yediot’s main competitor, Israel Hayom, in recorded conversations with Mozes, Channel 10 reported. It was previously reported that the two men discussed discontinuing Israel Hayom’s weekend edition. Mozes is due to be questioned again by police in the coming days, the report said.

Netanyahu contends that he was lying in the recording in order to expose extortion by Mozes, Channel 10 reported. According to the report, the Justice Ministry sees a clear-cut attempt at bribery by Mozes, but it is unclear whether Netanyahu violated the law.

In addition, police will ask Sara Netanyahu, possibly as soon as Thursday, to give testimony on the gifts she received, reportedly including large amounts of pink champagne.

Meanwhile, Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) will also reportedly give testimony on the genesis of the Israel Hayom bill.

Allegations are pouring in accusing Yediot of giving favorable coverage to certain MKs and blacklisting others.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On alleged in a post on her Facebook page that she was blacklisted by the newspaper for voting against the Israel Hayom bill, and that senior Yediot journalists knew about the alleged Netanyahu-Mozes deal.

“If the reports are true, Netanyahu and Mozes should go directly to jail. But it is about time to reveal the true face of some senior figures in Yediot who act like they never suspected that something like that could happen in their paper,” Gal-On wrote.

“The truth is that deals such as this could not be carried out without the cooperation of senior figures in the paper, without the editors and the journalists knowing about it,” she said.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) said sarcastically at a leadership conference in Haifa on Wednesday: “They say that [Yesh Atid chairman Yair] Lapid gets special treatment and [Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali] Bennett gets good coverage, but I wasn’t lucky enough to get my own personal journalist.”

Kahlon also said he “does not want to interfere [in the investigation], and [he] prefer[s] letting the police to do their job.”

This comes after a conversation depicting an alleged quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Mozes was leaked. “If you agree on a [Israel Hayom] law, I will do all I can [to ensure] that you will be here [in power] as long as you want,” Mozes told Netanyahu in a 2014 meeting, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday night. “I look you straight in the eye and say this in the clearest terms possible.”

According to the report, Mozes offered Netanyahu the ability to handpick journalists to provide positive press.

The prime minister is to be questioned for a third time by police this week.

Police have at least two recordings of Netanyahu speaking to Mozes in the Prime Minister’s Office, for approximately one hour each time, Channel 2 reported. The first meeting was held prior to the dissolution of the Knesset in 2014, and the second meeting shortly after the Knesset was dissolved.

The recordings were made by Ari Harow, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, at Netanyahu’s request, according to the report.

Opposition chairman Isaac Herzog appealed on Monday to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, demanding the removal of Netanyahu from his position as communications minister.

Herzog claimed in his appeal that recent media reports prove that Netanyahu has clear interests and a direct connection to Israel Hayom, and that if he is not removed, the Zionist Union will file a petition with the High Court of Justice on Thursday.

The Mozes-Netanyahu recordings could underpin the “Case 2000” file against Netanyahu, which police have kept under wraps. Police are also investigating “Case 1000,” which deals with allegations that Netanyahu accepted expensive cigars and gourmet meals in an illegal manner from Israeli-born movie mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.

Case 1000 is more likely to lead to an indictment against Netanyahu, according to the Hebrew media.

Police questioned Netanyahu under caution for a total of eight hours in two sessions last week regarding both cases.  (Jerusalem Post)

Iran, Syria ordered to pay nearly $200 m. over attack that killed Israeli baby

A US court this week ordered the governments of Iran and Syria to pay nearly $200 million to the family of an Israeli infant killed by a Hamas terrorist in a 2014 vehicular attack in Jerusalem.

The US District Court in Washington, DC ruled Tuesday that Tehran and Damascus were liable to provide compensation for damages amounting to $178,500,000 due to their financial backing of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

The Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin represented the family of dual Israeli-American citizen Chaya Zissel Braun, the three-month-old baby who was killed when Palestinian terrorist Abdel Rahman Shaludi rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people at the Ammunition Hill light-rail station in the capital. Israeli officials identified the perpetrator as a convicted terrorist who had previously served a prison sentence and had ties to Hamas.

Due to the infant’s dual nationality, her parents and grandparents filed the case with the US court. The case was won on default judgement as at least one defendant failed to appear before the court.

“The criminal regimes in Tehran and Damascus are the biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the world,” said Shurat HaDin lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. “This judgement sends a clear message that there is a very heavy price to be paid for financing terrorism and spilling innocent blood in the streets of Jerusalem.”

The US State Department condemned the October 2014 attack “in the strongest possible terms.”

“We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack, and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at the time. “We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.”

During the attack, the infant was thrown from her stroller before landing headfirst on the pavement. She was evacuated to a nearby hospital, but succumbed to her wounds shortly thereafter. Seven other people were wounded in the incident.

While Hamas praised the attack, hundreds of people attended the baby’s funeral, including President Reuven Rivlin and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.   (Jerusalem Post)

“Waning US Jewish support of Israel is a national security threat”

Decreasing support for Israel among US Jews is a “national security threat” for the Jewish state, the American Jewish Committee’s Dov Zakheim told a meeting Wednesday on religious pluralism at the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee.

Zakheim, the chairman of the AJC’s Jewish Religious Equality Coalition, is a former senior US defense official. Noting that he still advises the Pentagon, he said, “my concern is driven by my background in national security.”

Zakheim attended the meeting as part of a visit to Israel to advocate for religious pluralism. Since its founding in 2014, the broad-based coalition of American and Israeli Jews has warned repeatedly that the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over personal status issues, such as conversion and marriage, poses threats to Israel’s democratic nature and ultimately to its national security.

It maintains that any weakening of the US Jewish attachment to Israel could adversely impact the US-Israel special relationship.

(Anti-Israel protest outside Israeli embassy in Washington in 2014)

“Eighty-five percent of our community is not Orthodox, and because they’re not Orthodox, neither they nor their rabbis or leaders are recognized officially by the rabbinate of this country,” Zakheim said, pointing to issues of marriage, divorce, conversion and burial.

The AJC 2016 Survey of American Jewish Opinion found that 74% favor extending legal recognition to non-Orthodox weddings, divorces and conversions. The survey also found that 41% consider securing legal recognition of equality for all streams of Judaism the most important change necessary in Israeli Judaism.

“This is a major problem for us in the US for those of us who love Israel and want to see as close as possible ties between the Diaspora and Israel,” Zakheim warned. He added that the problem extends further than the US – to Canada, Britain and other countries with Jewish communities.

“If you want to look for a long-term and close connection between the Diaspora at large and Israel, you have to solve this issue,” he told the meeting.

He pointed to Jewish support of the BDS movement, the backing of the deal over Iran’s nuclear program, as well as a lack of loud opposition to the recent UN Security Council vote against Israel. Zakheim said that the number of Jews supportive of Israel is rapidly decreasing. “To me, it’s a national security threat to Israel,” he reiterated.

Zakheim was joined by Steve Bayme, director of AJC’s Contemporary Jewish Life program, who said that the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora must be understood in the context of Israel’s “incredibly successful narrative of the modern Jewish experience.

“But as Israel has become the center of world Jewry, responsibility goes with it,” Bayme said, noting that statements made by Israeli officials reverberate greatly throughout the Jewish world.

Pointing to Birthright, which brings thousands of young Jews to Israel every year, Bayme said some participants visit the country only to find that they wouldn’t be eligible to marry here.

“We’re trying to attract a critical mass of Jews to Jewish peoplehood, but the message they hear is that, due to the monopoly of the rabbinate, Israel is not central to their lives or relevant to their personal identity as Jews,” he said.

Bayme further noted that the value of equality is central to the education that US Jews are raised on. “When they find a lack of that equality, they are dismayed,” which in turn, according to Bayme, harms their degree of attachment to Israel.

AJC Board of Governors chairwoman Harriet Schleifer added that, as the state of Israel has developed, the perception of it from the US has changed, too. “Israel is now a strong country, so we are no longer worried about its stability,” she remarked, likening Israel’s transition to a “David-turned-Goliath.”

“The connection left is that we are Jewish, but if 90% of US Jews lose that identity because they’re told they’re not Jewish enough, who is going to fund in 20 or 30 years time, $38 billion over 10 years?” she asked, in reference to the US military aid deal signed last year with Israel.

“Israeli society must understand that, because we love our brothers here, we are afraid that at the end of the day Israel will be alone – Israel cannot be alone in the world; it needs all the friends it can get,” she asserted.

Noting that the Jewish populations of Israel and the US are of similar size, she stressed that they cannot afford to lose one another.

“Please don’t make young US Jews feel less connected or even apathetic,” she implored.

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) reiterated a recommendation he has advocated in the past to US Jewish leaders, based on criticism that their approach toward the Israeli government is not tough enough.

“I have no doubt that Israel is an anchor for the Diaspora communities, but so are they to Israel,” he said, opining that they “are making a joke” of themselves when they say they will discuss these issues with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government he accused of evading dealing with them.

He recommended that they don’t invite members of the Israeli government to conferences in the US, unless they support and recognize their conversions and the Western Wall prayer site agreement. “I agree it’s an honor to meet with the prime minister, but I think you should say ‘no thanks.’ You need to try new tools.”

Neither Bayme nor Zakheim, however, is receptive to this suggestion. “I think it’s much more complex than that,” Zakheim told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting. He backed a response by Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee chairman Avraham Neguise, who said that meeting with the prime minister was vital in order to reach a solution.

“It’s always more important to talk,” Zakheim reflected, adding that dialogue with members of the Israeli coalition is important to convey the “depth of their concern.”

For his part, Bayme told the Post that the subject should be put into the larger context of the work US Jews have done to build bridges and support for Israel. “If we engage in politics of confrontation, it can have unintended consequences.

We have been trying to enhance the image of Israel in the American public mind,” he explained.

“I prefer politics of diplomacy and dialogue,” he said, describing Israelis as members of the same family. “Family talks to one another.”

He was keen to note, however, that he understood Stern’s comments and views him as a “major ally.” AJC’s relationship with Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, conversely, appears to be far weaker.

When questioned about this, Bayme said he had met with Bennett several years ago and observed radical differences of opinions on the issue of settlements and a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I can’t say we have the most productive relationship with him… and I would certainly welcome a relationship with him,” he said.

“Those differences shouldn’t be fatal to a relationship.”   (Jerusalem Post)

South African opposition leader visits Israel, defying travel directive from S.A. President

The head of South Africa’s opposition met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday, mere days after the country’s president reiterated Pretoria’s longstanding travel directive discouraging senior officials from visiting Israel.

Mmusi Maimane, who heads the Democratic Alliance party, arrived in Israel earlier this week on what officials called a private visit focused on fostering business ties. He was accompanied by three senior DA lawmakers, including Michael Bagraim, a former chair and president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

Maimane, who has been the leader of the South African opposition since 2014, also met with his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and several Foreign Ministry officials. His visit was mentioned on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s monthly list of official visits.

Both the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv declined to comment on Maimane’s visit. The South African opposition leader declined requests for interviews.

On Sunday, South African President Jacob Zuma, speaking in his capacity as leader of the African National Congress, the country’s ruling party, restated the group’s policy to urge officials against visiting Israel.

“The people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination and the ANC pledges its ongoing solidarity and support for their just cause,” Zuma said in his traditional January 8 address. “We reiterate that we firmly discourage travel to Israel for causes not related to fostering peace in the region.”

South African president and African National Congress president Jacob Zuma, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, April 16, 2016. (AFP/Michael Sheehan)

During last year’s January 8 speech, Zuma had said the party discourages “travel to Israel for ANC leaders, members and representatives for business and leisure purposes.”

Tens of thousands of South Africans ignore that instruction every year, according to a senior Israeli official.

“It is excellent that Maimane and three senior members of the DA are spending a week seeing the best of Israel,” the official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is a chance for them to see the variety of ways Israel can partner with South Africa. It is an excellent message, days after the silly, self-defeating ANC advice not to visit Israel, which nearly 30,000 South Africans ignored in 2016, that a young, thoughtful South African leader shows a different, more balanced vision.”

In a sign of thawing ties, Zuma on Monday condemned the vehicular attack in Jerusalem that killed four Israeli soldiers. In a statement released by the South African Foreign Ministry, the president “extended the country’s condolences to the government of Israel for the attack on its four young cadet soldiers killed in the truck incident that took place yesterday in East Jerusalem.”  (the Times of Israel)

Debunking More False Assumptions Regarding Israel – Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

In addition to the “Ten False Assumptions Regarding Israel,” which addressed many of the widely-held and universally-disseminated false and mistaken assumptions regarding Israel, here are some additional false assumptions to address.

“Israel is committing genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian People” – Israel has never advocated, devised or entertained any plan, design or campaign, systematic or otherwise, to undermine or destroy the Palestinian people, or to act out of revenge or despair.

Since 1967, the Palestinian Arab population has increased from 954,898 to 4,654,421 – by 387%. It was not Israel that massacred 15,000 Palestinians living in Jordan during the “Black September” war between Jordan and the PLO in 1970. It was not Israel that caused the displacement of 390,000 Palestinians in Syria since the conflict began in 2011.

“The establishment of Israel was a catastrophe for the Palestinians” – The Arabs’ original 1948 rejection and denial of the right of existence of the State of Israel has not changed and remains the central aim of their narrative.

“Israel violates its obligations in the Oslo Accords” – Israel has implemented its obligations pursuant to the accords in good faith.

The long list of fundamental breaches by the Palestinians includes active support, encouragement and financing of terror and violence against Israel and its population, and the maintenance of terror infrastructure despite obligations to dismantle it; wholesale acquisition and manufacture of illegal weaponry for purposes of terror; daily hate indoctrination and incitement to violence and terror; and attempts to unilaterally alter the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip outside the negotiating process, through unilateral initiatives in international bodies.

“Israel is denying the ‘right of return’ to millions of Palestinian refugees” – There exists no ‘right of return’ for refugees in international law or practice, and no international treaty imposes any such obligation on Israel.

Ambassador Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.