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Latest News in Israel – 22nd February

Two Border Police officers wounded in stabbing at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate

Two Border Police officers were wounded in a stabbing attack at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday morning.

According to initial reports, a Palestinian woman at the scene was wounded by shrapnel from gunshots fired in an attempt to neutralize the terrorist.

The suspected terrorist was shot dead. Security forces identified the assailant as a 20-year-old Arab Israeli.

According to police, the knife-wielding assailant attacked a patrol of officers from behind. The security forces then responded with gunfire, shooting and neutralizing the attacker.

Magen David Adom evacuated the victims, one in light condition and one with light-to-moderate wounds, to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital.

Police units responded to the scene and cordoned off the flashpoint area.

Friday’s attack came after a pair of 14-year-old Palestinians carried out a stabbing attack at a supermarket in the West Bank’s Binyamin region, killing one off-duty IDF soldier and wounding another civilian.

The Damascus Gate has been the location for many attempted stabbing and terror attacks of late.

“It’s a crossroads where Jews and Arabs meet and a very difficult place to secure that doesn’t really compare to anywhere else,” said an MK for the Yesh Atid party, Mickey Levy,  the former commander of the Jerusalem Police, in 2000- 2003

It’s a route for Jews heading to the Western Wall by way of Hagai Street and for Palestinians visiting Muslim holysites on the Temple Mount.

For West Bank Palestinians, it is very often the first place they disembark in the city. It is also a bustling location full of vendors and tourists as well as commuters heading to or from the light rail or the two major streets that border it – Sultan Suleiman and Haneve’im.          (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian shot dead after aborted car-ramming attack in West Bank

A Palestinian assailant was shot and killed after he allegedly tried to ram a car into Israeli security forces during rioting in the West Bank village of Silwad on Friday.

No Israelis were injured in the incident, according to the army.

Earlier on Friday, two Border Police officers were wounded in a stabbing attack at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday morning.

According to initial reports, a Palestinian woman at the scene was wounded by shrapnel from gunshots fired in an attempt to neutralize the terrorist.

The suspected terrorist was shot dead. Security forces identified the assailant as a 20-year-old Arab Israeli.

According to police, the knife-wielding assailant attacked a patrol of officers from behind. The security forces then responded with gunfire, shooting and neutralizing the attacker.

Magen David Adom evacuated the victims, one in light condition and one with light-to-moderate wounds, to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital.

Police units responded to the scene and cordoned off the flashpoint area.

Friday’s attack came after a pair of 14-year-old Palestinians carried out a stabbing attack at a supermarket in the West Bank’s Binyamin region, killing one off-duty IDF soldier and wounding another civilian.

The Damascus Gate has been the location for many attempted stabbing and terror attacks of late.  (Jerusalem Post)

Terror victim’s wife at funeral: ‘You didn’t have a gun but you ran toward the attackers’

Tuvia Weissman[1]

IDF Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman (R), his wife Yael, and baby

Tuvia Yanai Weissman, 21, was killed trying to stop two Palestinian teenage terrorists from stabbing shoppers at a Rami Levy supermarket in the Binyamin region of the West Bank on Thursday.

At his funeral in Jerusalem early Friday morning, his wife Yael, described how they had been in another part of the store with their infant daughter Netta when the teenagers pulled out knives.

“You are a true hero. You didn’t have a gun, but still you ran [toward the attackers] without thinking twice,” said Yael in a tear filled voice, as she stood by her husband’s freshly filled grave in the Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery.

“I always knew that if something happened you would be the first person to respond,” Yael said.

Her husband of almost two years, who she called by his middle name of “Yanai” had been a combat sergeant in the IDF’s Nahal Brigade. He was only able to be with his family on weekends.

“Yesterday we went shopping so that when you returned to the army on Sunday you would know that Netta and I had everything we needed and that nothing was missing.

“You were always like that. Whenever you were with us during the weekends you did everything you were not able to do during the week when you were away,” Yael said.

At times, as she stood at the podium, she cried so hard it was difficult for her to speak, particularly as she recalled their last moments in the Sha’are Binyamin industrial park outside of Jerusalem, where Rami Levy is located.

“We came to the supermarket. We were together. You were worried the whole time about Netta and made sure she stayed close to me.

“Then in one moment, everything happened. We heard there had been a stabbing and even though you did not have any weapons on you, you ran to help without thinking twice.

“I waited for you to return to me and Netta, I waited for you to hug us and say that everything was fine and that you had succeeding in stopping the terrorists.

“We waited a long time and you did not return,” she said.

“People, who were as amazing as you were in thinking about others before themselves, helped me find you,” said Yael.

“I was not able to stop you and I am not sorry. If you had not raced there [to help], you would not be the Yanai that I know, the one I fell in love with.”

Tuvia Yanai had been stabbed in the upper part of his body as he tried to disarm the two 14-year old Palestinians who had come to the store from Betunyia, the nearby suburb of Ramallah were they lived.

Another shopper with a gun, shot and wounded the two teenagers, who are now being treated in two Jerusalem’s medical centers; Sha’are Tzedek and Hadassah Ein Karem.

Tuvia Yanai was also evacuated to Hadass Mount Scopus, where doctors tried to save his life for a number of hours, but the injuries were to severe.

An Israeli shopper who had been wounded by the terrorists was released on Friday from the Hadassah Medical Center on Mt. Scopus.

Yael told the hundreds of mourners who crowded around her at Friday’s funeral of the special relationship she had with her husband, who she had known for seven years first as a friend and then as the love of her life.

“Yanai, my beloved, who would believe that I would sit and write to you when you were no longer with me.

“That I would not be able to show you the letter, so that you could add it to our collection of correspondence,” Yael said.

“Our love was a very special thing. It didn’t matter how much we disagreed with each other or argued, we always did it respectfully,” she said.

The time he spent in the army away their home in the settlement of Ma’aleh Michmas each week had been hard, she said.

“Before we left for the store I hugged you and asked, ‘so, when will we be together like a normal family?’

“We were waiting for your release from the army.

We had so many plans. To fly, to trek, to work, to study, and most important of all, to be together,” Yael said.

Her husband was so focused and directed in his short life, that it was almost as if some part of him already knew how little time he had, she said.

“I want to thank you for every moment that we were together,” she said.

“Thank you for the best present you could have given me, our daughter Netta. I couldn’t ask for something more perfect. I promise that Neta will know who you were and how much you loved her. We will never part from you. You will always be with me. Even if I am not with you physically, we will to be apart.”

“Give me the strength to look Neta in the eyes and tell her that everything will be fine. I promise to take care of her as best I can. I am sorry that we did not have a chance to realize our dreams.

“I love you and I already long for you,” Yael said.                   (Jerusalem Post)

Female terrorist caught at Tapuach Junction

A knife-wielding female teenage terrorist was arrested Sunday morning after an attempted terror attack at the Tapuach Junction checkpoint.

Armed with a knife, the 17 year old terrorist, a resident of the Arab village of Qusra in Samaria, had positioned herself near a bus stop at the junction, but was discovered and arrested before carrying out any attacks.

When the border police ordered the suspect to halt, she reportedly approached them with her knife, but stopped once the soldiers’ guns were drawn.

During questioning she revealed that she was inspired to commit a terror attack in part by online videos inciting young Arabs to violence. The suspect’s hometown of Qusra is the scene of frequent clashes with both IDF soldiers and Jewish residents of the neighboring community of Esh Kodesh.           (Arutz Sheva)

Missing IAF navigator Ron Arad was tortured and killed in 1988′

A Lebanese military tribunal which is hearing the case of five nationals arrested for alleged collaboration with the Israeli Mossad could shed new light on the fate of missing IAF navigator Ron Arad.

One of the defendants in the case told the tribunal that Arad was tortured and killed in 1988.

Arad’s whereabouts have been a mystery since he aborted his plane over southern Lebanon 30 years ago. Israel at the time accused the Shi’ite militia Amal of holding Arad prisoner, but the movement never confirmed or denied the Israeli claim.

In 2006, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said that he believed Arad was dead and that his body was missing, though there was no explanation given as to how he died.

The Israeli government has never officially declared Arad dead, and it engaged Arab and Lebanese parties in talks for possible prisoner swaps in order to secure his release. In addition, Jewish groups around the world enlisted in the cause and offered substantial monetary prizes for any information leading to Arad’s freedom.

One of the defendants in the Lebanese case said that he gave Israel false information about Arad in exchange for money.

A number of Lebanese individuals say that they know what happened to Arad. Five of them are now being tried by a military tribunal – George Dahan, Mehdi Danaf, Maufid Kuntar, Elias Dahar, and Karina Taksh.

According to the Daily Star, Kuntar, who was a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party when Arad’s plane went down, was told that the organization had taken a prisoner captive.

Kuntar said that the prisoner was tortured and beaten “as that is how interrogations happen.”

“They told me that he had entered the bathroom and stayed there for a long time,” the Daily Star quotes him as saying. “When they went to check on him they found him dead.”

Although he doesn’t recall whether the prisoner was wearing an aviator’s uniform, Kuntar said that it was only after the captive was buried and Arad’s name was mentioned in media reports that he realized it may have been the missing IAF navigator.              (Jerusalem Post)

Iran-backed group blames Israel for trying to kill leader in Gaza

The Iranian-backed Al-Sabireen over the weekend accused Israel of being behind an attempt on the life of the terrorist group’s secretary- general, Hisham Salem.

A powerful explosion targeted the home of Salem in Gaza City early on Friday, causing huge damage, the group said. No one was hurt.

Al-Sabireen (The Patient Ones), in a statement released shortly after the explosion, claimed that Israel and its “agents” were responsible for the assassination attempt against its leader.

The attack was designed to “strike at the mujahideen [holy warriors], sow the seeds of discord and deviate the resistance from its track,” it said.

“All signs prove that the Israeli occupation’s hand did it. The occupation has not spared any effort to target the secretary-general of Al-Sabireen and the leaders of the group,” the group claimed.

It pointed out that Israel had recently killed Ahmed al-Sarhi, a top commander of Al-Sabireen, who was shot dead by IDF soldiers near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The group said that the latest attack would not deter it from pursuing the “path of resistance. Our rifle will continue to be directed against the Israeli occupation.” It called on Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip to open an immediate investigation into the “cowardly attack” on the home of Salem.

Al-Sabireen popped up in the Gaza Strip about three years ago and has since posed a direct challenge to Hamas. The group consists mostly of disgruntled former Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, who quit their groups to join the new Iranian-backed militia.

This was not the first attempt on the life of Salem. Last October, he claimed that he had been stabbed by an unidentified assailant after he gave a TV interview near the border with Israel. Hamas security forces have detained Salem and other Al-Sabireen members on a number of occasions in the past two years.     (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli judge orders tests in Melbourne case

Israel’s prosecution service has persuaded a judge to order fresh psychiatric evaluations of a former Melbourne Jewish school principal who is fighting extradition to Australia to answer child sex abuse charges.

Judge Amnon Cohen, of the Jerusalem District Court, will use the expert advice to decide whether the proceedings should continue against Malka Leifer, who faces 74 charges in Australia of indecently dealing with girls at the Adass Israel School.

In ruling she should be seen again by a state psychiatrist, Judge Cohen rejected a defence application that the extradition proceedings be suspended because Mrs Leifer suffers panic attacks ahead of each hearing, preventing her attendance.

State prosecutor Avital Ribner-Oron told Judge Cohen on Sunday local time that Mrs Leifer was dragging out proceedings to avoid being sent to Australia to face prosecution, and the accused pedophile had “no interest” in becoming well.

But Mrs Leifer’s lawyer Freid Yuhuda, insisted she was in such mental distress that continuation of the case would cause her permanent harm.

For more than 18 months, the mother-of-eight has been in hospital ahead of each court date, forcing repeated adjournments.

She was absent again for Sunday’s hearing, staying this time in her Bnei Brak home in central Israel.

The impasse is set to finally be broken after Judge Cohen ordered that Mrs Leifer be seen again by the district psychiatrist, one of the state doctors who have evaluated her previously and found she was not faking her symptoms.

Judge Cohen will bring the case back on March 20 when he could make a decisive finding on whether it should continue, and if so, how.

For the first time Mr Yuhuda argued there should be no further hearings due to the anguish it causes Mrs Leifer from stress-induced psychosis.

Mr Yuhuda said she did not suffer from psychotic episodes “24/7”, but only when an impending court date triggered a panic attack.

“This is not a fraud, this is not an act and the doctors at the end of the line think it is a psychotic attack,” he said.

But Ms Ribner-Oron, arguing for extradition, said the “elephant in the room” was that Mrs Leifer had no interest in getting well, as this meant she would have to go to Australia to face her accusers.

The argument about whether the former principal was fit to stand trial there was not one that the Israeli court had to consider; “this discussion is for Australia”, the state prosecutor said.

Leifer went to Israel in 2008 within hours of being stood down by the Adass school board over the allegations, and has been under house arrest since being arrested by Israeli authorities in 2014 in response to the extradition request by the Australian government. She had been recruited from Israel to run the girls’ school in 2000.

But the case has been unable to proceed because Mrs Leifer’s lawyers say her stress-induced psychotic episodes are too severe to allow her to respond to summonses to appear in court or to properly communicate with them if she did, as required by Israeli law.

After being virtually ignored by the Israeli media, the case is gradually gaining traction, with Israeli sex abuse victim support groups rallying behind the former Adass students and their families who are demanding that Mrs Leifer be extradited from Israel, where she is under house arrest.

Outside the court, Manny Waks, a survivor of alleged sex abuse at Jewish orthodox school in Melbourne, said he was disappointed for Mrs Leifer’s alleged victims that the case was up in the air.

But he said he was encouraged that the judge had accepted the prosecution for Mrs Leifer to undergo psychiatric re-evaluation. “But with this great news the tension builds as the final decision is in the hands of the psychiatrist’s report, Mr Waks told The Australian.

Last September, a Melbourne judge awarded one of Mrs Leifer’s alleged victims $1.27 million in civil damages for sexual abuse.                (The Australian)

Treblinka revolt’s last survivor passes away at 93

Samuell Willenburg, the final survivor of the Treblinka extermination camp revolt, passed away in Israel on Saturday at the age of 93. His funeral is to take place on Monday at 3:00 PM at Moshav Udim. He leaves behind his wife, daughter, and three grandchildren.

At the age of 17, Willenburg joined the Polish army and fought against the Nazi invaders in 1939. After surviving the Holocaust, he worked as a sculptor and commemorated one of his statues to the Trebelinka uprising, when prisoners launched a revolt that resulted in the successful escpe of 67 of them.

He recounted his stunnng escape to Ynet’s sister site Xnet in an interview: “They shot at me, but I continued to run away.” He added: “Some of the people who escaped with me ran to the left and others ran to the right; I ran straight ahead, alone.”

After the revolt, the Nazis murdered 900,000 Jews withn 13 months at Treblinka. Willenburg later participated in the Polish Warsaw Uprising in 1944.  His tale has been immortalized in an autobiography, “Surviving Treblinka,” published in Hebrew, Polish, and English in 2002, and the documentary film “The Final Witness”. The president of Poland also granted him the highest military decoration bestowed by Poland.

His daughter, Orit Willenburg-Giladi, said: “My father turned into a legend because the memory of Treblinka and its atrocities were very important to him. He wanted to tell the stories that shook his soul; that was his life’s goal. He was a wonderful person and an example for all us because of his courage, brazenness, optimism, and his tremendous joy of life.”

His widow, Eda, spoke this morning of their last moments together. “Yesterday afternoon, we sat beside him; he did not pass away alone,” she said. “My daughter and I held his hands and we watched him depart from us.”

Willenburg recently requested that a new building be erected at the memorial site in Treblinka. “We will absolutely continue his work and will undertake great efforts to bring his final desire to fruition,” said Eda Willenburg.

In the documentary film “Treblinka’s Last Witness,” Willenburg discusses a meeting with Ruth Dorfman, a fellow Treblinka prisoner who has long been etched in his memory, a moment before she was murdered. Willenburg was in charge of cutting Dorfman’s hair before she entered the gas chambers.

He recalls Dorfman asking him, “How long will the process of dying take? She knew what awaited her because in Warsaw, where she was from, people had heard about what was happening in Treblinka. Nonetheless, I answered that I would take a few minutes.  (Ynet News)

Arab social media abuzz over Sisi’s reported praise of Netanyahu

What exactly did Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi say to a group of American Jewish leaders about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

That has been a much-discussed topic on Arab social media in recent days, as it appears a number of Internet users have misinterpreted praise that the Egyptian leader reportedly lavished on Netanyahu.

An Israeli internet report claimed that Sisi was overheard telling his guests that he viewed Netanyahu as “a leader with great powers that help him not only lead his country but also could propel the region – even the world – forward.”

Egypt is also reportedly happy with Netanyahu’s initiative in building a fence along the Israel-Sinai frontier, which has helped reduce the amount of weapons being smuggled into Egypt from the Gaza Strip.

It appears, though, that Sisi’s warm words for Netanyahu – if they were indeed uttered – caused a public stir.

Arab social media users were struck by the positive words that Sisi said about Netanyahu, although it appears the president was misquoted – at least that is what the government in Cairo claims.

According to an Egyptian news site, Sisi never told his American Jewish interlocutors that Netanyahu “can rule the world.”

The Egyptians say that in his talks with American Jewish officials, Sisi commended Netanyahu’s “wisdom” in navigating the rough regional terrain.

Cairo is particularly complimentary of Netanyahu’s willingness to accommodate the Egyptians in permitting the regime to deploy more military force in the Sinai Peninsula as part of Sisi’s efforts to crush jihadist insurgents.

Egypt, which is bound by the peace accord with Israel to keep the Sinai demilitarized, has been pleased with Jerusalem’s flexibility on the issue.

Although Israel and Egypt ended their state of war 37 years ago, the notion of normalized relations remains deeply unpopular in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Both governments take great pains to downplay cooperation with one another given the sensitivity and the negativity with which Israel is seen in Egyptian public opinion.

The American Jewish delegation held an “open and very productive discussion” with Sisi on Thursday as part of their tour through the region.

The delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with Sisi for two hours in Cairo.

They discussed a “wide range of domestic and international issues, including US-Egyptian and Israeli-Egyptian relations, regional threats, especially those posed by terrorist organizations and their supporters, and Iran” post nuclear deal, the group said in a statement.

The Conference leadership said that they had an “open and very productive discussion and that they were impressed by the President’s analysis on a wide variety of issues.”       (Jerusalem Post)

Never say never

by Alan Baker    The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Never-say-never-445279

In a curious announcement by the minister for foreign affairs of the Palestinian Authority, Riyad Malki, made at a press conference in Tokyo on February 15, 2016, while accompanying his boss Mahmoud Abbas on a visit to Japan, Malki stated (as reported in The Times of Israel): “We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

Many would brush aside such a statement as another example of routine Palestinian bravado and propaganda at a time when the world is somewhat fatigued with the endless Palestinian attempts to keep their plight at the forefront of world attention.

This is perhaps all the more evident when, at the same time, the Palestinian leadership adamantly refuses to return to the negotiating table, preferring instead to engage in endless efforts to bypass the negotiation process, whether in the United Nations or through other international organizations.

Additionally, the Palestinian leadership continues to openly and even proudly sponsor and encourage an international BDS campaign (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel in commercial and cultural fields, and engages in open, daily incitement which leads to violence and murder of Jews and Israelis.

All this in clear and direct contravention of Palestinian commitments – whether to Israel or to the international community – in the various agreements signed over the past 20 years.

What is all the more ironic in this curious situation is the fact that it is Israel that is being accused and held responsible, whether by the French foreign minister, by the US State Department or by the EU leadership, for obstructing the return to a negotiating mode.

However, foreign minister Malki’s announcement needs to be taken very, very seriously. Indeed, in international diplomacy, the statements of a foreign minister are treated as official and authoritative governmental positions, with binding powers.

As such, Malki’s declaration runs solidly against Yasser Arafat’s solemn commitment in his letter dated September 9, 1993, to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, according to which: “The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process and to the peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved by negotiation.”

Similarly, in the 1995 Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) the parties reaffirmed their desire “to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.”

Thus, this official announcement by the Palestinian foreign minister ending, to all intents and purposes, any continuation of a negotiated peace process between the Palestinians and Israel, should logically be treated by leaders of the US, the EU, the UN and by other major international elements as a resounding and shocking volte-face by the Palestinians. It should be considered to be a clear violation of all Palestinian commitments so far, and possibly as a fundamental breach of the Oslo accords, by frustrating any possible return to negotiations.

It cuts through and undermines all the various UN, EU and other resolutions urging the parties to return to negotiations. It represents a clear slap in the face to all those senior politicians, foreign ministers, parliaments and others who repeatedly blame Israel for impeding the negotiation process.

This statement basically endorses what has, in practice, become the accepted policy of the Palestinian leadership, of encouraging anything other than direct negotiation, in the hope that the French, the US, the EU and the UN might bully Israel into accepting Palestinian dictates and impose a solution without taking into consideration Israel’s own legal, political, security and historical rights and needs.

One might presume that all those senior politicians and foreign ministers who consider themselves involved in the Middle East peace process – and especially US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini – will express their immediate indignation and objection to this statement by the Palestinian foreign minister.

One might hope that they will demand some solid, public reassurance by the Palestinian leadership that the Palestinians have not given up the option to solve the dispute through negotiation.

Is this too much to hope for?

Does Abbas really want Israel to withdraw from the West Bank?

Why should he exchange victimhood for an uncertain future that is liable to have many more victims?

By Gadi Taub    Ha’aretz

http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-1.704003

A Palestinian journalist I happened to run into recently in some smoking corner asked me, “What makes you think we will let you leave the territories? Who will protect us?” I assume that he was at least half-joking. But as a thought experiment, maybe it’s worth exploring the other half for a moment.

We can rephrase the question this way: Why should Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sign a peace treaty with us in return for a state along the 1967 lines? The answer is, of course, so that he can liberate his people from Israeli military control and be free to rebuild their national life.

Only it’s not so simple. First of all, it would require giving up the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, for which any Palestinian politician would pay a heavy price. After swearing allegiance to this right so many times, and after immortalizing the refugee problem for three generations with the help of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, yielding on the right of return will without a doubt be regarded as capitulation and moral bankruptcy.

And what about some relief in the realm of human rights? These rights are the cornerstone of the Israeli left’s arguments against the occupation, but it isn’t certain that they are a PA priority. Although the Israeli occupation seriously undermines the Palestinians’ human rights, the Palestinian Preventive Security force isn’t exactly Amnesty International and it isn’t clear it will abuse those rights any less.

Moreover, if Abbas and his people fear a Hamas takeover – and after Gaza it’s hard to blame them – they can rely on Israel’s superior military strength for as long as we’re there. It’s certainly more comfortable for Abbas than battling Hamas on his own. They are his people, after all.

Right now the PA can compensate for this dependence on Israel by declaring that it will never stop the struggle for liberation from Zionist colonialism. But if the Palestinians are liberated from Zionist colonialism through an agreement to divide the land, the PA will have to reverse both sides of the equation; it will be losing the support of the Israeli bayonets while also looking as if it succumbed to them.

But above all, Abbas has surely looked around at what’s happening throughout the region and has noticed that Arab nation-states have been collapsing all around him. The assumption that a Palestinian national state will be an island of stability in the heart of this chaos is not obvious, to say the least. Young, tiny, with institutions that have not been groomed for nation-building and with a shaky economy that’s dependent on others, it would not be a particularly safe bet, especially when all that separates it from the Islamic State caliphates is Jordan, which has absorbed Syrian refugees in numbers that are almost equal to a quarter of its own population.

Last, but not least, a peace agreement would give Israel a gift the PA won’t be too happy to give. It would extract Israel from its biggest problem, the occupation, halt its increasing international isolation, and put an end to the internal debate that’s been eating away at the foundations of the Israeli consensus.

Given all this, why should Abbas exchange victimhood for an uncertain future that is liable to have an even higher toll of victims?

Could it be that all this has occurred to him? If so, perhaps we should start thinking of how to try and end the occupation without his help.

Or perhaps it was just a silly joke by a Palestinian journalist in a smoking area. We put out our cigarettes and went back inside to listen to the same old arguments – who is right, who’s to blame, who violated what, who built where, and who is lying.

As I See It: Two cheers for Britain’s BDS ban     

by Melanie Phillips        The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=445425

New government guidance will prevent any public body from imposing a boycott on a member of the World Trade Organization to which Israel belongs.

The British government has done something in support of Israel, and the progressive intelligentsia is in shock. Prime Minister David Cameron is taking action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

New government guidance will prevent any public body from imposing a boycott on a member of the World Trade Organization to which Israel belongs.

Local boycotts breach the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, which demands that all suppliers are treated equally.

The guidance aims at preventing publicly funded bodies such as municipal councils or National Health Service trusts from boycotting goods produced by what they believe to be “unethical companies,” such as firms involved in arms trading, fossil fuels or tobacco products as well as companies based in Israel.

Matthew Hancock, the British government’s Cabinet Office minister, revealed the development on a visit to Israel this week. Such boycotts, he said, were divisive, potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel and risked fueling anti-Semitism.

The enemies of Israel are beside themselves in fury.

The British Labor Party has called the guidance an “attack on democracy.” NGOs in the forefront of anti-Israel activism, such as Amnesty, War on Want and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have called it a “gross attack” on democratic freedoms and the ability of councils or other public bodies to make “ethical investments.”

The British government’s initiative has understandably delighted Israel and its supporters. They should nevertheless temper their jubilation.

In its own limited terms, the guidance is certainly justified. It merely restates existing law and requires public bodies to comply. The boycott of Israel by public bodies is a gross abuse of taxpayers’ money. The protests at the government initiative are specious.

Democracy does not require a local council or hospital trust to busy itself in foreign policy matters. It does not require public bodies to behave in a discriminatory manner by singling out Israel for treatment afforded to no other country. And “ethical investment” hardly entails supporting Palestinian dictatorships and the proposed ethnic cleansing of the Jews from their own ancient homeland.

The term “boycott” doesn’t do this justice. BDS is a campaign of mass bullying and intimidation, sending threatening mobs into supermarkets, lecture theaters and concert halls intent on harassment and censorship under the guise of human rights – directed at further punishing the victims of a century of exterminatory terrorism and war in the Middle East.

Many British Jews feel intimidated and threatened by BDS because they understand it to be nothing less than the Western front in the war of extermination directed at Israel.

No other country is subjected to such a campaign built on grotesque lies about its behavior designed to turn the Israelis into devils in the Western public mind.

No country, indeed, is subjected to a boycott campaign based on the truth about its behavior. There is no boycott campaign directed against Saudi Arabia, Iran, China or any of the myriad states which oppress and subjugate their hapless populations.

There is no boycott campaign against either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority which persecute and tyrannize their populations, jail dissidents and throw homosexuals off the roofs of tall buildings. On the contrary, these regimes are supported against Israel by the BDS brigade, who are mute on the Palestinians’ abuse of each other let alone their hysterical incitement against and mass murder of Israeli Jews.

Apartheid in South Africa was a real and demonstrable evil. When Jews hear that BDS against Israel is modeled on the anti-apartheid campaign, the comparison turns their blood to ice.

That’s because accusing Israel of apartheid is a wicked and manipulative lie deployed as a weapon of war by Israel’s enemies to portray it as a rogue state which needs to be eliminated. BDS thus makes its Western proponents complicit in the attempt to destroy the only state in the Middle East which actually upholds human rights, and whose only crime is to exist at all as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Far from promoting human rights, BDS seeks to deny them to the Jews alone. As its co-founder Omar Barghouti openly declared, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” As such, BDS is directed not just at Israel but at the entire Jewish people.

But the Israel boycott is by no means the whole problem.

BDS is to anti-Israel lunacy what ISIS is to Islamic extremism: merely the noisiest and most eye-watering manifestation of a deeply rooted and widespread lethal contamination.

The poison is incubated in the universities. This week, the co-chairman of the Oxford University Labor Club, Alex Chalmers, announced he was resigning over its rampant anti-Semitism and endorsement of Israel Apartheid Week on campus.

“Whether it be,” he wrote, “members of the executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former co-chair claiming that ‘most accusations of anti-Semitism are just the Zionists crying wolf,’ a large proportion of both OULC and the student Left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.”

A further statement from the Oxford University Jewish Society said senior members of the Labor Club liked to regale listeners with a song called “Rockets over Tel Aviv” and endorsed Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians, stated all Jews should be required to denounce Zionism and the State of Israel, and said those who refused to do so should be shunned. And they had arranged for a group of students to harass a Jewish student and shout “Filthy Zionist” at her.

Preventing BDS will not stamp out this deranged animosity against Israel and Zionism that has now gripped most of the Labor Party and Britain’s “progressive” intelligentsia.

Indeed, the new guidance may provide a fig leaf for the derangement to continue. The British government can pose as a champion of Israel against delegitimization.

But that very same British government continues to propound one of the key lies fueling Israel delegitimization: that its “occupation” and settlement of the disputed territories is illegal.

If David Cameron really wants to tackle anti-Israel incitement, he should be telling the British public some inconvenient truths – such as that the occupation and the settlements are legal several times over; that in the entire Middle East it is only Israel that upholds human rights for Arabs along with all its other citizens; that no decent person should support the Palestinian agenda of anti-Israel incitement, Jewish ethnic cleansing and the destruction of Israel; and that NGOs such as Amnesty and War on Want are a disgrace for doing so.

Alas, he will not do this. Although he has moved sharply in the right direction over Israel, he hasn’t yet joined up the dots. Or maybe he has, but isn’t brave enough to show his country the completed picture.

Unless he does so, however, his guidance will do little to restore reason and decency to British public debate.

Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).