Saudi delegation to Israel: Ending Palestinian conflict critical for ties with Arab states
Israel can only normalize relations with its Arab neighbors if it resolves the conflict with the Palestinians, a visiting delegation from Saudi Arabia told parliamentarians on Friday.
“Without any advancements in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians there won’t be any advancements with Saudi Arabia or other Arab nations,” MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) said as she relayed their message to the press.
Saudi general Anwar Eshki led the group of businessmen and academics, who were in Israel in part to promote the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi Initiative. The plan promises Israel diplomatic relations with Arab states in exchange for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
Svetlova said the meetings were important, because Eshki is close to Saudi King Salman and his son, Mohammad. Eshki also heads the independent think tank Middle East Institute, which is working on plans for a bridge between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The delegation also visited Ramallah and met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
While in Israel, Eshhki met separately with Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and the Coordinator of Government Activities for the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai.
Gold confirmed the meeting and said he had established a relationship with Eshki long before taking up his post as director-general.
In an unusual event, Eshki had even appeared with him on stage last year at a public event at the Washington based think tank – the Council on Foreign Relations.
While he did not discuss the content of their meeting, Svetlova reported that Eshki told Gold to relay the message to Netanyahu that, “without any advancements in the Palestinian arena, there won’t be any rapprochement between Israel and the Arab nations.”
Meanwhile on Sunday, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s political chief lambasted the visit by the Saudi delegates.
“We reject and condemn these visits and call on the leaders of the kingdom and its brotherly people to end this useless act that will cause damage to the kingdom and its people,” Khaled al-Batsh wrote on Facebook.
Netanyahu in past months has called for a new peace process based on an amended version of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
The Arab League, which has endorsed the plan, has said that it is not interested in amending it.
Among the items Israel would like to change is the process laid out in the peace plan, which offers Israel normalized ties after a final status agreement is reached with the Palestinians.
Israel would like to normalize ties with its moderate Arab neighbors first, with the idea that it would help pressure the Palestinians to arrive at a peace deal with Israel.
Israel also views such ties as necessary to combat extremist terrorist threats in the region.
It already has diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan, but wants to widen that circle.
Earlier this month, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made a rare visit to Jerusalem and held a public press conference with Netanyahu.
Egypt would like to play a role in leading a regional peace process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu has given a nod in the direction of such a Cairo based initiative. (Jerusalem Post)
Islamic terrorists plan attacks against Israeli and American athletes at Olympics
Authorities in Brazil are on high alert as Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic terrorists plan various types of lone-wolf attacks at the upcoming Olympics in Rio.
Jihadis affiliated with Al Qaeda are planning terror attacks at the 2016 summer Olympics next month in Rio de Janeira.
According to information obtained by the news site, jihadis were instructed on social media to carry out “lone wolf” attacks against Israeli, American, British and French athletes. “One small knife attack against Americans/Israelis in these places will have bigger media effect than any other attacks anywhere else insha’Allah [Arabic for God-willing]” they were advised.
“Your chance to take part in the global Jihad is here! Your chance to be a martyr is here!” the murder-inciting message continues, pointing to the apparently easy process of obtaining visas for travel to Brazil as well as the wide availability of guns in “crime-ridden slums.”
Israeli athletes are the biggest targets: “From amongst the worst enemies, the most famous enemies for general Muslims is to attack Israelis. As general Muslims all agree to it and it causes more popularity for the Mujahideen [jihadi fighters] amongst the Muslims.”
Innocent spectators are also legitimate targets, but priority should be given to attacking prominent leaders, the instructions say. Methods of terror include, for example, food poisoning, planting explosives, pouring lubricating oil on highways with sharp curves, and kidnapping Israelis and Americans in order to “free Muslim prisoners.”
The instructions specifically mention Jews, saying the oil on the roads should result in accidents that would “see Israeli Jews flying with their vehicle by the will of Allah.”
Supplemental posts include the hashtag #RioLW or “Rio lone wolf,” with a reminder to potential terrorists to prepare a claim of responsibility, such as an email prior to the attack or a scheduled Facebook post.
On September 5, 1972, a day before the Olympic Games were to begin in Munich, eight Palestinian terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli team. (United with Israel)
Israeli sports minister won’t attend Olympic ceremony
Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) has said she will not attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Brazil this year, due to it falling too close to the Sabbath.
The ceremony is due to take place on Friday, August 5, and would necessitate her traveling back after sundown – the start of Shabbat.
Over the past several days Regev’s office had made great efforts to have her and her staff stay at venues closer to the Rio 2016 opening ceremony, which would have enabled the minister and her team to walk home instead of driving in deference of Shabbat. However, security officials informed her it would not be possible to provide adequate protection.
Though Regev is traditional but not strictly religious, she said the issue was one of principle.
The Shabbat, our national day of rest, is one of the most important gifts that the Jewish nation imparted to humanity,” Regev said in a statement.
“As a representative of the State of Israel, the one and only Jewish state, I sadly cannot take part in the opening ceremony of the Olympics, as the schedule would require me to desecrate the Sabbath.” (Arutz Sheva)
Study reveals dramatic drop in crime rate among young immigrants
There has been a significant drop in crime among young immigrants in Israel, according to a report released Monday by the Yedidim social services organization, which works with children and youth across the country. The report was presented at an Immigration and Absorption Ministry meeting, showing that the crime rate among immigrant minors –which was previously found to be high– had decreased from some 23 percent in 2001, to some six percent in 2013.
In light of these findings, Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise called for a dramatic increase in support by the ministries of Education, Welfare, Absorption and Social Security, for the Sikuim (second chance) program run by Yedidim. The program aims to reshape the lives of juveniles delinquents by offering them a clean slate, through guidance, ongoing support and personal attention. Neguise stated that providing support to the program’s rehabilitation and prevention efforts now, will save hundreds of thousands of shekels in the future.
Professor David Laser, a researcher at Ben Gurion University backed this claim, stating that every shekel the state invests in crime prevention or in rehabilitation for juvenile delinquents, it saves five-ten shekels in the future, in prison costs, compensation for the victims, loss of income from work etc.
Neguise, who is himself of Ethiopian origin, noted that of the juvenile delinquents in prison, some 30% are of Ethiopian descent, and for many of them it is their second time in jail. Yedidim CEO Shimon Siana explained that the study was conducted on the heels of police statistics showing that the crime among the young immigrant population was disproportionately high. “Our program is the fruits of a collaboration between government ministries, the police and the organization,” he said, pointing out that they work both with the offending youths and with their families.
Efi Braver, director of the Welfare Ministry’s Juvenile Probation Service remarked that Sikuim was one of several programs working to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents in 32 areas across the country where a need for such programs had been identified. He said that in the past ten years, the percentage of immigrants involved in the program had dropped from 90% to 50%, supporting the findings that their had been a decline in crime among th Many of the Second Chance mentors are university students, meaning that their proximity in age to the young offenders enables them to relate better than older adults. Mentors noticed that many of the cases falling on their laps involved immigrant youth who were traumatized by their new environment and who didn’t feel at home in Israel.
Only youth who show a high level of motivation are selected for the Sikuim program, and upon successful completion of the program the police recommends that the judge close their record. In this way, the organization says, they are given a “second chance” at being responsible, contributing members of Israeli society. (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinians: Refugee Camps or Terrorist Bases?
by Khaled Abu Toameh The Gatestone Institute
The 450,000 Palestinians in Lebanon are still banned from several professions, especially in the fields of medicine and law. They refer to these restrictions as apartheid measures. The Lebanese apartheid measures against Palestinians are rarely mentioned in the Western media and international human rights groups. The UN does not seem overly concerned about this discrimination.
Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have become in the past few decades bases for various innumerable militias and terrorist groups.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, is formally in charge of the refugee camps in Lebanon, including those that are now providing shelter to Islamist terrorists.
The Lebanese authorities are increasingly running out of patience with the growing Islamist threat.
ISIS is on the mind of the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership. Top PA officials have expressed concern that jihadi groups, including ISIS, have managed to infiltrate Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Lebanese authorities are also worried — so worried that they have issued a stiff warning to the Palestinians: Stop the terrorists or else we will take security into our own hands.
According to Lebanese security sources, more and more Palestinians in Lebanon have joined ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, a Sunni Islamist militia fighting against Syrian government forces. In response, the Lebanese security forces have taken a series of measures in a bid to contain the problem and prevent the two Islamist terror groups from establishing bases of power in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
According to some reports, dozens of Palestinians from Lebanon who joined ISIS and Al-Nusra Front have been killed or wounded in Syria in recent months. Most of those who were killed have been buried in Syria, the reports said.
Alarmed by the success of ISIS and Al-Nusra Front in recruiting dozens of Palestinians to their ranks, the Palestinian Authority leadership this week sent Azzam Al-Ahmed, a senior advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, to Beirut for urgent talks with Lebanese government officials on ways of containing the escalation. The PA leadership fears that the heightened activities of the two terrorist groups in the refugee camps will force the Lebanese army to launch a massive military operation to get rid of the terrorists, who pose an immediate threat to Lebanese national security.
Al-Ahmed, who is in charge of the Lebanon Portfolio in the Palestinian Authority, held a series of meetings with Lebanese government officials in a bid to avoid a security showdown between the Lebanese army and the Palestinians living in the country’s refugee camps. Following a meeting with Lebanese Interior Minister Nihad Al-Mashnouk, the Palestinian envoy said that the talks focused on the need to take “joint steps to ensure security stability in the Palestinian refugee camps.” According to Al-Ahmed, the talks also dealt with ways to prevent certain parties, especially ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, from exploiting the Palestinian refugee camps to threaten Lebanon’s security interests.
Lebanese security officials have reported direct contacts between ISIS leaders in Syria and some senior Islamist figures in the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp, the largest camp in Lebanon, with a population of more of than 120,000 — half of them refugees who fled Syria since 2011. The officials said that one of the commanders of ISIS in Syria, Abu Khaled Al-Iraqi, has stepped up his contacts with Palestinians in Ain Al-Hilweh in recent weeks, in preparation for launching terrorist attacks against Lebanese targets. The Lebanese have named a number of Palestinians from Ain Al-Hilweh evidently serving as ISIS representatives in Lebanon: Emad Yasmin, Helal Helal, Abed Fadda, Nayef Abdullah and Abu Hamzeh Mubarak.
Last week, Palestinian sources revealed that one of the jihadi leaders in Ain Al-Hilweh, Omar Abu Kharoub, nicknamed Abu Muhtaseb Al-Maqdisi, was killed while fighting alongside ISIS in Syria. The sources said that he is only one of hundreds of Palestinians from Lebanon who have joined ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front.
The Lebanese government has informed the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah that at least 300 jihadi terrorists are now barricaded inside Ain Al-Hilweh. “The situation has become intolerable and we can no longer turn a blind eye to this threat,” the Lebanese warned the PA.
The Islamist terrorists who have found shelter inside Ain Al-Hilweh have repeatedly warned the Lebanese authorities against launching a military attack against the refugee camp.
In a recent sermon for Friday prayers, Sheikh Abu Yusef Aqel condemned Lebanon’s mistreatment of its Palestinian population. He pointed out that under Lebanese law, Palestinians are banned from working in 72 professions. Referring to reports in the Lebanese media about the threats emerging from the Palestinian camps, Sheikh Aqel said:
“If these (Lebanese) media outlets were really affiliated with the resistance, as they claim, they would have focused on the suffering of a people that was displaced from its homeland more than 70 years ago. They would also have focused on the fact that Lebanon bans this people from working in 72 professions.”
Aqel is referring to the circumstance that until a decade ago, a total of seventy-two professions were restricted to Lebanese only. The Lebanese government issued a memorandum on June 7, 2005 permitting Palestinians refugees to work in fifty of these seventy-two professions. However, Palestinians in Lebanon are still banned from several types of jobs, especially in the fields of medicine and law. The 450,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon refer to these restrictions as apartheid measures.
The Lebanese apartheid measures against Palestinians are rarely mentioned in the Western media and international human rights groups. The United Nations does not seem overly concerned about this discrimination, apparently because it is practiced by an Arab country against Arabs.
Lebanon has never been comfortable with the presence of the Palestinians on its soil. That is precisely why the authorities have turned the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon into ghettos. These ghettos are off-limits to the Lebanese security forces. As a result, these camps have become in the past few decades bases for various innumerable militias and terrorist groups. Until a few years ago, the major Palestinian Fatah faction was the dominant group controlling the refugee camps in Lebanon. No longer. Today, it has become evident that many other groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS and Al-Qaeda have established bases of power inside the camps.
It is worth mentioning that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is formally in charge of the refugee camps in Lebanon, including those that are now providing shelter to Islamist terrorists.
Back to PA anxiety. Undoubtedly, the Palestinian Authority leadership is concerned that many of its erstwhile loyalists in Fatah have defected to the various jihadi terror groups. These groups are now posing a major threat not only to Lebanon’s security and stability, but also to the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who feel helpless in the face of the Islamist tsunami sweeping the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Abbas and his PA have clearly lost control over the millions of Palestinians living in the neighboring Arab countries, including Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. This is in addition to the fact that Abbas and the PA have nearly no control over Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where various jihadi groups and other secular militias and gangs are now in control.
The hands of the Palestinian Authority leadership are now tied: the PA cannot regain control over the refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Arab countries. There is also nothing that Abbas can do to stop the residents of these camps from joining ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
All what is left for Abbas to do is to try and prevent a catastrophe from falling on the heads of the Palestinians in these camps, especially Lebanon, where the Lebanese authorities are increasingly running out of patience with the growing Islamist threat.
“The Lebanese army will not allow terrorism to find a safe place in Ain Al-Hilweh or any other part of Lebanon,” cautioned a Lebanese security source. “We will not allow Ain Al-Hilweh to become a hotbed for terrorism and be used as a launching pad to explode the situation in Lebanon. We will face any such attempt with force and firmness.”
The Palestinians’ biggest fear now is that Ain Al-Hilweh will meet the same fate as the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, which was almost entirely destroyed by the Lebanese army in 2007. Then, the presence of Islamist terrorists belonging to the Fatah Al-Islam group inside Nahr Al-Bared triggered heavy clashes during which the Lebanese army used artillery and helicopter gunships to attack the camp, home to some 40,000 Palestinians. At least 158 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, which also left many families homeless.
Busy with more pressing issues, Abbas was unable to make the trip to Lebanon himself. What is the urgent business that prevented him from showing up in person to try to prevent catastrophe for his people in Lebanon? His grand tour, an end-game bid to win support for an international Middle East peace conference that would choke Israel into submission.
Abbas is next slated for Paris, where on July 22 he is scheduled to meet with President François Hollande to discuss the latest French initiative to “solve” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hollande might do better to turn inward to consider how his own country will manage the latest wave of Islamist terrorism. Abbas, for his part, is unlikely to broach with Hollande the incendiary situation in the Palestinian refugee camps, where ISIS and Al-Qaeda are gaining the upper hand.
As French Terror Grows the Largest Group of French Immigrants this Summer Lands in Israel
The largest French immigration of the summer landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport on Wednesday, where the newcomers were greeted with calls of “bienvenue en Israel” at a festive event held in their honor.
More than 200 French Jews were aboard the flight, organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) in collaboration with the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, and Keren Hayesod-UIA.
Jewish Agency Chief Natan Sharansky welcomed the new immigrants, saying “There is a huge future for French Jews in Israel. Each one of you made a huge step forward for your children’s future and for building the future of the State of Israel.” (Arutz Sheva)