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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2350 on: November 20, 2017, 10:55:03 AM »

The Important Symbolism, but Probable Futility, of the Taylor Force Act
by A.J. Caschetta
The New English Review
November 17, 2017
http://www.meforum.org/7023/important-symbolism-of-taylor-force-act

 
Taylor Force likely won't be the last American killed as a result of Palestinian terror incitement.

The Taylor Force Act (TFA) passed the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously on Wednesday and is expected to pass the full house with wide bipartisan support. The Taylor Force Act marks a noble and long overdue departure from the "anything goes" attitude toward Palestinian terror incitement of previous administrations, but it's unlikely to have a decisive impact on how the PA operates.

The bill is named for US Army veteran Taylor Force, who was murdered while studying in Israel by Palestinian terrorist Bashar Massalh in March 2016. As it does with all other Palestinian terrorists who die carrying out their attacks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been making monthly payments to Massalh's family ever since. These funds, from the PA's "Martyr's Fund," are directed through the PLO, which Abbas also controls.

U.S. congressional leaders responded to Force's murder with rare unanimity and determination to put an end to the so-called "pay-to-slay" program and other forms of PA incitement. Sort of.

The Taylor Force Act is designed to trigger a cutoff of US aid to the Palestinians unless the PA takes steps to end terrorism by "individuals under its jurisdictional control," publically condemns and investigates terror attacks, and stops paying monthly stipends to the families of terrorists.

Authority to certify PA compliance with the law's criteria is vested solely in the State Department.

First, authority to certify PA compliance with these three criteria is vested solely in the State Department (in both House and Senate versions), which for years had refused to budge from its traditional depiction of the PA as a force of moderation and peace partner. Fear of the alternatives to PA President Mahmoud Abbas (now in the 12th year of his 4-year term) has led the department to engage in absurd defenses of his regime in the past, and there is no sign of that changing. Indeed, State has already all but certified PA compliance with the first two of the three criteria in its 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism, which commends Abbas's counter-terrorism efforts.

Moreover, the legislation has been watered down to allow some public entities and projects in Palestinian areas to continue receiving US funding on humanitarian grounds regardless of whether the PA is in compliance. Palestinian water projects, childhood vaccination programs and East Jerusalem hospitals are untouchable. "What good is there in punishing women and children for something they did not do?" explained Senate co-sponsor Lindsay Graham in August.

The legislation has been watered down to exempt some public entities and projects from an aid cutoff.

While no one wants Palestinian women and children to go without medical care, vaccinations, or clean water, the history of terrorism funding teaches us that all aid is fungible. With a little imagination, most aid dollars can be construed as benefiting innocent Palestinians somehow or another. The real peril for ordinary Palestinians is a governing apparatus so indifferent to their welfare that it spends over $190 million annually encouraging them to sacrifice their lives.

Like most autocracies, the PA isn't likely to change its ways until its grip on power becomes unsustainable. Nothing short of a total cessation of US funding has much chance of instigating such change.

Palestinian leaders aren't impressed by what they've seen so far. Shortly after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved TFA in August, the Abbas-led PLO Executive Committee issued a blistering statement pledging to continue providing "aid to the families of the martyrs and prisoners," which it called a "national, moral, and humanitarian responsibility towards the occupation's victims."

The TFA is an important first step in divesting from nearly a half-century of failed PLO leadership.

Others will surely step in to make up for any shortfall of funding in the "pay-to-slay" program. During the Second Intifada, Saddam Hussein sent $10,000 checks (later raised to $25,000) to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and the King of Saudi Arabia held telethons to raise money for them. Perhaps this time around, as Daniel Pipes succinctly tweeted: "#Qatar will pay."

But at least it won't be us subsidizing terrorist blood money. If nothing else, the Taylor Force Act marks an important first step in divesting America from nearly a half-century of failed PLO leadership. That alone makes its passage worth celebrating.

A.J. Caschetta is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology
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« Reply #2351 on: December 06, 2017, 06:28:21 PM »

ANALYSIS: UPENDING THE APPLECART

> Trump announces US moving embassy to Jerusalem
> Netanyahu: There is no peace that doesn’t include J'lem as Israel’s capital
BY HERB KEINON   DECEMBER 7, 2017 01:31 
Along comes Trump, the most untraditional and nonconformist of all US presidents, and says “enough is enough.” What has been tried didn’t work, so it’s time to try something new.

2 minute read.

In a brief speech of 1,240 words, US President Donald Trump did more on Wednesday than “just” recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin the process of moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv. He also upended the orthodoxy that has dominated the approach to Middle East peacemaking for a quarter century.

 Over the last 24 years, since the beginning of the Oslo peace process, certain tenets have come to be accepted as truths: that the only solution is a two-state solution; that there can be no long-term interim agreements; that dozens of settlements will have to be removed; that a future Palestinian state must be free of Jews; and that Washington cannot recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until there is a final peace deal.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

On and off over this period, a lot of intelligent people have devoted a great deal of time and energy towards trying to bridge the chasm between the most Israel would offer and the minimum the Palestinians were willing to accept. And despite their best efforts, they couldn’t bridge the gap.

Along comes Trump, the most untraditional and nonconformist of all US presidents, and says “enough is enough.” What has been tried didn’t work, so it’s time to try something new.

“When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking,” Trump said. “We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approaches.”

Every US president for the last 20 years has signed the presidential waiver keeping the embassy out of Jerusalem, but it did nothing to promote peace, he said. “It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.”
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ccp
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« Reply #2352 on: December 06, 2017, 07:17:44 PM »

Prof Dershowitz points out is was OBAMA who broke with tradition when dealing with Israel among Presidents - not Trump:

https://www.newsmax.com/alandershowitz/trump-jerusalem-israel-obama/2017/12/06/id/830325/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2353 on: December 07, 2017, 02:37:16 PM »


http://www.atimes.com/article/humiliation-path-peace-middle-east/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2354 on: December 08, 2017, 05:58:52 AM »



    Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will give jihadist groups a rallying cry to galvanize supporters and recruit new members.
    By dimming the prospects for a two-state solution, the move will push Israelis and Palestinians alike toward a one-state model, however reluctantly.
    Though the change in Jerusalem's status will present a challenge for most countries in the region, Iran and Turkey could turn it to their advantage.

Jerusalem is a place where deep belief and international politics collide. As a result of this powerful convergence, it's easy to overestimate the city's influence on regional relations. U.S. President Donald Trump's recent announcement that his administration would recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital met with praise, scorn and warnings of impending catastrophe from various corners of the world. Many of the proposal's critics argue that moving the U.S. Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv would cause violence and unrest, while dashing any hope of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. But fears that war and widespread violence would follow the announcement are overblown. Nevertheless, the move will not be free of consequences. Beyond the manifold security implications it entails, the decision will produce unwelcome disruptions for many and opportunities for a few, even if its repercussions fall short of apocalyptic.
Where Interests Collide

Since the U.S. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, a hard-line pro-Israel faction in the United States has pushed to recognize the holy city as the Israeli capital in keeping with the legislation's provisions. (Successive presidential administrations had continually delayed the law's implementation through waivers issued every six months.) But the United States' spiritual ties to Jerusalem reach back nearly 200 years. In the early 1800s, Boston missionary Levi Parsons urged Americans to settle Palestine to compel Jesus' return. A group of Chicagoans fleeing the Great Fire founded the American Colony of Jerusalem several decades later in 1881 as a Christian utopia; today, the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem is a historical landmark. Though the city has little strategic importance to the United States, and though Americans never constituted a major contingent of its diverse population, Jerusalem's enduring mark on the popular imagination has given it a unique place in U.S. foreign policy.

Regardless of the United States' spiritual imperatives, however, the fact remains that Jerusalem is also Islam's third-holiest city. Its symbolic loss will resonate throughout the Muslim world. The Palestinian Islamic party Hamas has called for a day of rage to protest the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. And even after all the demonstrators have gone home, activists will keep the furor alive on social media. The city is a prime military objective for extremist groups as it is. Its change in status will offer various jihadist outfits, including the nearby Islamic State franchise Wilayat Sinai (formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or "Defenders of Jerusalem"), a propaganda opportunity and rallying cry to galvanize disaffected Muslims. On the heels of the Islamic State's defeat in Iraq and Syria, moreover, the U.S. administration's decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem will boost the extremist group's recruitment.
Disturbing the Peace Process

The decision will also jeopardize the United States' position as a neutral broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as some have warned. By acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Washington will undermine its role in the peace process and, in turn, dim the prospects for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No other country or institution, after all, is ready to step up in the United States' place. Then again, the peace process has been moribund since long before Trump announced his intentions for Jerusalem on the campaign trail in 2016. Discord between Hamas and rival party Fatah has stalled negotiations and enabled Israel to forge ahead with its settlements in the West Bank. Furthermore, Hamas, as well as states such as Iran, have long doubted the United States' intentions as a mediator. At most, Washington's revised stance on Jerusalem will only expedite the inevitable collapse of the peace process.

As the odds of realizing a two-state solution become more remote, Palestinians may start pushing for a single state instead. But rather than achieving this goal through conquest — the solution Hamas has always espoused — Palestinians would accept annexation by Israel with full citizenship. The plan so far has support only among liberal Palestinians, and no major Palestinian leaders endorse it. Without the possibility of a two-state solution, however, the single-state alternative will become the only option for Palestinians going forward.

Israel, meanwhile, will also move toward a one-state solution. Giving recognition for Jerusalem as its capital city has for decades been a valuable bargaining chip for the United States. Now that the United States has satisfied that demand without asking for any further concessions, Israel will feel even less pressure to address the Palestinian issue. Its settlement process will continue apace, bringing Israel closer, if inadvertently, to a single-state model. The one-state solution has its drawbacks for Israel, though: Adding millions of Palestinians to the voter rolls will doom the country's Jewish majority, but denying them suffrage would spell the end of Israel as a democracy. So though the current situation may appear to be a political victory for Israel today, it will bring difficult decisions down the line.

For most states in the region, a change in Jerusalem's status in Jerusalem is an unwelcome distraction from more pressing problems.

A Decision of Regional Consequence

In addition, the change in Jerusalem's status will complicate the budding partnership between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The United States' decision will spur majority-Muslim countries around the world to band together in outrage against Israel and prompt the kingdom, as the custodian of Islam's holiest sites, to distance itself from its would-be public ally. Otherwise, Riyadh's deepening security ties to Israel would highlight the extent to which concerns over Iran's power in the region have overshadowed the question of Palestinian statehood in Saudi policy. The kingdom still will try to mitigate popular outrage against Israel, but to retain its religious legitimacy, it will have to halt or delay trade deals, official visits and changes to state curriculum, which currently depicts Israel as an invader of Muslim lands.

Jordan, where Palestinians make up nearly half the population, will also have to deal with the fallout from Jerusalem's new designation. Just five months after a security guard at the Israeli Embassy in Amman killed two Jordanians, one of them by accident, the United States' announcement will further fuel outrage in Jordan against Israel. Jordanians will take to the streets to try to force their king to justify the existence of the country's 1994 peace treaty with Israel. At the same time, the powerful Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood will capitalize on the incident to gather strength in the country's parliament while eroding the monarchy's legitimacy. Attacks on the monarchy, in turn, could slow, if not reverse, Jordan's efforts at structural economic reform.

Similarly, the threat of unrest will compel Egypt to downgrade its relations with Israel and with the United States. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will face scrutiny over his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, over Egypt's peace treaty with Israel and over his efforts to prevent arms from flowing over the Gaza border to Hamas. With elections slated for the spring, al-Sisi can't afford to put his security credentials — the foundation of his platform — at risk.

Though the United States' revised position on Jerusalem will complicate matters for many countries in the region, others may turn the situation to their favor. Washington's recent announcement, for instance, will seem to vindicate Iran's staunch anti-Israeli, anti-American stance in the coming weeks. And in Turkey, it will give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an opportunity to boost his image as a pan-Islamic leader by reducing or altogether severing relations with Israel, which he recently accused of undermining Jerusalem's Islamic character. Turkey, of course, has an underlying geopolitical incentive to restore diplomatic ties with Israel eventually, but in the meantime, suspending them will help Erdogan as he confronts his country's wobbly economy.

But Turkey and Iran are the outliers. For most states in the region, a change in Jerusalem's status is an unwelcome distraction from more pressing problems. The decision, in fact, will have undesirable side effects even for the countries that it ostensibly stands to benefit the most — the United States and Israel. Whether the repercussions live up to worst-case scenarios swirling around in the public discourse is another story.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2355 on: December 08, 2017, 06:27:17 AM »

second post

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-06/trump-teaches-palestinians-about-the-new-middle-east
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2356 on: December 08, 2017, 08:11:31 AM »

third post

http://carolineglick.com/trumps-great-gifts-to-israel-and-america/
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objectivist1
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« Reply #2357 on: December 10, 2017, 06:32:39 PM »

http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/268625/president-trumps-jerusalem-move-deals-blow-terror-daniel-greenfield

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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2358 on: December 21, 2017, 02:13:51 PM »

http://israelvideoupdates.com/undercover-idf-soldiers-stun-rioting-arabs-watch-closely/?omhide=true
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2359 on: December 22, 2017, 04:49:55 PM »



http://carolineglick.com/israels-learning-disabled-right/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2360 on: January 05, 2018, 01:50:17 PM »



http://carolineglick.com/trump-kicks-the-palestinian-habit/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2361 on: January 07, 2018, 02:35:25 PM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/world/middleeast/egypt-jerusalem-talk-shows.html?_r=0
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2362 on: January 19, 2018, 11:20:24 AM »



http://carolineglick.com/time-for-trump-to-cut-the-cord-on-the-palestinians/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2363 on: January 20, 2018, 01:47:49 PM »

MEF Offers One Million Dollars to UNRWA
News from the Middle East Forum
January 18, 2018
http://www.meforum.org/7168/mef-offers-one-million-dollars-to-unrwa
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A few minutes ago, we sent out a press release offering one million dollars to UNRWA provided it meets one simple condition (see below), adding that the "offer is valid until June 30, 2017." No, this wasn't a punch line; it was a regrettable first-of-the-year typo. The deadline is June 30, 2018, and the offer is serious. To the many subscribers who pointed this error out to us, our sincere thanks.

The Middle East Forum
 
PHILADELPHIA – January 18, 2018 – The Middle East Forum announces a donation of one million dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

After the U.S. Government partially withheld funding, UNRWA's head called on "people of good will in every corner of the globe where solidarity and partnerships exist for Palestine Refugees" to "join us in responding to this crisis and #FundUNRWA."

The Middle East Forum has responded: "Despite UNRWA's long record of misbehavior: incitement against Israel, supporting violent attacks on Jews, and corruption, we are prepared to help UNRWA, conditional on it making some reforms," said Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum. "We are delighted to contribute in solidarity if UNRWA takes steps to end the Palestine refugee problem.

"The Forum's contribution requires UNRWA to end the automatic registering in perpetuity of (1) the descendants of refugees, (2) those who hold a nationality, and (3) those who live in their purported homeland, the West Bank and Gaza. Making these technical changes puts it in line with all other refugee agencies and reduces the number of Palestine refugees from 5.3 million to around 20,000. Our one-million-dollar donation will go a long way to meet the humanitarian considerations of this small and diminishing number."

The Middle East Forum has long pressed for a tightening of requirements for the "Palestine refugee" status, seeing this as both improving Palestinian lives and diminishing the threat to Israel.

"The current UNRWA definition breeds a victimhood mentality that perpetuates Palestinian-Israeli conflict," notes Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum. "We hope our funding can inspire improvements in the lives of those in need while bringing the conflict closer to resolution."

On its own, UNRWA can adjust the definition of a refugee and has done so. In 1950, UNRWA defined a refugee as "a needy person, who, as a result of the war in Palestine, has lost his home, and his means of livelihood." There was no reference to descendants. In 1965 and 1982, UNRWA unilaterally decided to extend refugee status to all descendants, which meant the number of "Palestine refugees" now expands without limit.

The Middle East Forum is ready to help UNRWA out of this predicament. The offer is valid until June 30, 2018. MEF's management alone will decide when the conditions for payment have been fulfilled.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2364 on: January 25, 2018, 02:03:56 PM »

Hizballah Helps Hamas Enhance Terrorist Infrastructure on Israel's Northern Border
IPT News
January 25, 2018
https://www.investigativeproject.org/7289/hizballah-helps-hamas-enhance-terrorist
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2365 on: January 26, 2018, 12:11:54 PM »

http://carolineglick.com/3622-2/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2366 on: January 31, 2018, 02:51:55 PM »



https://www.israelvideonetwork.com/the-fascinating-story-behind-king-david-conquest-of-jerusalem/?omhide=true
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2367 on: February 01, 2018, 09:50:50 AM »

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/hamas-co-founder-dies-after-accidentally-shooting-himself-in-face-militant-group-says/ar-BBIvqeW?li=BBnbfcL
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« Reply #2368 on: February 01, 2018, 09:53:24 AM »


Heh.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2369 on: February 05, 2018, 01:15:06 PM »

https://www.israelvideonetwork.com/muslim-terrorist-stabs-jew-to-death-in-samaria/?omhide=true
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2370 on: February 10, 2018, 11:33:34 AM »

Iran begins to probe from its coalescing landbridge

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/israel-carries-out-large-scale-attack-in-syria-after-israeli-jet-crashes-under-anti-aircraft-fire/2018/02/10/89e0ca2c-0e33-11e8-95a5-c396801049ef_story.html?undefined=&utm_term=.d97a2f840fdc&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1
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« Reply #2371 on: February 12, 2018, 12:59:12 PM »

With Gaza in Financial Crisis, Fears That ‘an Explosion’s Coming’
By DAVID M. HALBFINGERFEB. 11, 2018

GAZA CITY — The payday line at a downtown A.T.M. here in Gaza City was dozens deep with government clerks and pensioners, waiting to get what cash they could.

Muhammad Abu Shaaban, 45, forced into retirement two months ago, stood six hours to withdraw a $285 monthly check — a steep reduction from his $1,320 salary as a member of the Palestinian Authority’s presidential guard.

“Life has become completely different,” Mr. Abu Shaaban said, his eyes welling up. He has stopped paying a son’s college tuition. He buys his wife vegetables to cook for their six children, not meat.

And the pay he had just collected was almost entirely spoken for to pay off last month’s grocery bills. “At most, I’ll have no money left in five days,” he said.

Across Gaza, the densely populated enclave of two million Palestinians sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, daily life, long a struggle, is unraveling before people’s eyes.


At the heart of the crisis — and its most immediate cause — is a crushing financial squeeze, the result of a tense standoff between Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules Gaza, and Fatah, the secular party entrenched on the West Bank. Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority but was driven out of Gaza by Hamas in 2007.


At grocery stores, beggars jostle with middle-class shoppers, who sheepishly ask to put their purchases on credit. The newly destitute scrounge for spoiled produce they can get for little or nothing.

“We are dead, but we have breath,” said Zakia Abu Ajwa, 57, who now cooks greens normally fed to donkeys for her three small grandchildren.

The jails are filling with shopkeepers arrested for unpaid debts; the talk on the streets is of homes being burglarized. The boys who skip school to hawk fresh mint or wipe car windshields face brutal competition. At open-air markets, shelves remain mostly full, but vendors sit around reading the Quran.

There are no buyers, the sellers say. There is no money.

United Nations officials warn that Gaza is nearing total collapse, with medical supplies dwindling, clinics closing and 12-hour power failures threatening hospitals. The water is almost entirely undrinkable, and raw sewage is befouling beaches and fishing grounds. Israeli officials and aid workers are bracing for a cholera outbreak any day.

A Palestinian cancer patient at a hospital in Gaza City. United Nations officials warn that Gaza is nearing total collapse, with medical supplies dwindling, clinics closing and 12-hour power failures threatening hospitals. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

Israel has blockaded Gaza for more than a decade, with severe restrictions on the flow of goods into the territory and people out of it, hoping to contain Hamas and also, perhaps, to pressure Gazans to eventually oust the group from power.

For years, Hamas sidestepped the Israeli siege and generated revenue by taxing goods smuggled in through tunnels from Sinai. But President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, after taking power in 2013, choked off Hamas — an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Mr. Sisi sees as a threat — by shutting the main border crossing at Rafah for long stretches. Egypt, which has no interest in becoming Gaza’s de facto administrator, used that pressure to force Hamas to close the Sinai tunnels.

For Hamas, the deteriorating situation is leaving it with few options. The one it has resorted to three times — going to war with Israel, in hopes of generating international sympathy and relief in the aftermath — suddenly seems least attractive.

Hamas can count on little aid now from the Arab world, let alone beyond. And Israel, in an underground-barrier project with a nearly $1 billion price tag, is steadily sealing its border to the attack tunnels into Israel that Gaza militants spent years digging.

The collapsing tunnel enterprise, in a way, neatly captures where Hamas finds itself: with no good way out.


Last year, the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, ratcheted up the pressure on Hamas, stopping its payments for fuel for Gaza’s power station and to Israel for electrical transmission into the Gaza Strip. It slashed the salaries of thousands of its workers who remained on its payroll in Gaza, even though they no longer had jobs to do after Hamas took power. Those measures forced Hamas into reconciliation talks that kindled new hopes, reaching their peak in a much-heralded October agreement in Cairo.

Hamas, eager to rid itself of the burdens of governing — though unwilling to disarm its military wing — showed flexibility at the talks, quickly ceding control over border crossings like the one with Israel at Kerem Shalom, and the tax collections there that had provided it with some $20 million a month.

But a series of missed deadlines for handing over governance to the Palestinian Authority, and the removal last month of the Egyptian intelligence chief who had brokered the reconciliation talks, have dashed hopes and left the two factions squabbling, the rapprochement slowly bleeding out.

Hamas now refuses to relinquish its collection of taxes inside Gaza until the Palestinian Authority starts paying the salaries of public employees. But the authority is refusing to do that until Hamas hands over the internal revenue stream.

“The most hard-line people in the P.A. believe they need full capitulation from Hamas, including the dismantling of its military,” said Nathan Thrall, an analyst for International Crisis Group who closely monitors Gaza. “The vast majority of Palestinians see that as wholly unrealistic. But the P.A. thinks that strategy is working. So they think the pressure should continue, and they’ll get even more.”

The longer the stalemate lasts, the more Hamas hemorrhages funds and Gaza’s economy suffocates. While thousands of Palestinian Authority workers in Gaza like Mr. Abu Shaaban were forced into early retirement, and those who remained saw their pay cut 40 percent, some 40,000 Hamas workers — many of them police officers — have not been paid in months, officials say.

As Gaza’s buying power plummets, imports through Kerem Shalom are falling — from a monthly average of 9,720 truckloads last year to just 7,855 in January — which will only cut Hamas’s revenue more.

“Abu Mazen has punished all of us, not only Hamas,” Fawzi Barhoum, the chief Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in an interview, using Mr. Abbas’s nickname.

From Israel, a Conflicted View

A debate raged in Israel this past week, which sees the possibility of war both to its north and south, between military leaders warning about the looming crisis in Gaza and politicians questioning just how much and how soon the situation there would threaten national security.

Such a conflicted view has characterized Israeli policy ever since the blockade was imposed, analysts say, as the country sought to protect itself by cordoning off the strip.


But that meant keeping an enormous degree of control over the flow of people, cargo, energy and international aid across the border — and as it clamps down, the resulting social harm in Gaza can blow back against Israel.

Nowhere is that more palpable than just across the border in Israel, where soldiers patrol close enough to wave at the Hamas militants eyeing them from watchtowers, and commanders talk of Gaza’s unemployment and poverty rates as fluently as of their battle preparations.

Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fox, who leads the army’s Gaza division, recently showed Hamas and Islamic Jihad tunnels discovered and destroyed in the past few months. The tunnels were supplied with air, electricity and water, and dug by an estimated 100 men working in shifts.

The showpiece of the army tour, though, was not the tunnels, but the construction of a concrete-and-electronic barrier, dug deep into the earth, that General Fox said will eventually detect other tunnels and stop more from being built.


About three miles of the barrier is finished, with about 38 miles to go. It is an impressive display of ingenuity, but comes at an enormous cost: Five concrete plants have been set up, supplying 20 digging sites, at a cost of nearly $1 billion. Enough concrete is being poured into the desert sand, the general said, to “build Manhattan.”

But he also acknowledged that the underground-barrier project had increased the pressure on Hamas to use its existing tunnels soon, or risk losing them forever — heightening their dangers to Israel.

As moribund as the reconciliation process has become, General Fox said, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were keeping it alive because “no one wants to be blamed for destroying it.” If it does fail, Hamas will likely deflect Gazans’ anger: “They’ll say Israel is the problem — ‘Let’s go to jihad and start a war.’”

Climbing back into an armored vehicle, the general drove past an Iron Dome antimissile battery to a park where hundreds of picnickers and mountain bikers — Jews and Arabs alike — had flocked to see meadows blooming with scarlet anemones. Israel calls this February festival “Red South.”

Photo
An Israeli Arab woman sitting in a park where hundreds of picnickers and mountain bikers — Jews and Arabs alike — had flocked to see meadows blooming with scarlet anemones. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

It was well within mortar range of the border.

“It’s their decision what to do,” the general said of Hamas. “Three times in the past 10 years they’ve chosen war. They wasted many lives and a lot of money and destroyed Gaza. And they can try to do it a fourth time.”

Then again, he said, “Everybody learns.”

Photo
Israel, in an underground-barrier project with a nearly $1 billion price tag, is steadily sealing its border to the attack tunnels that Gaza militants spent years digging. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times


Israel recently called on donor countries to fund some $1 billion in water and energy improvements in Gaza, measures that would take time. But there is more it could do to alleviate the crisis quickly, according to the Israeli advocacy group Gisha — like easing the way for cancer patients to travel for treatment, or renewing exit permits for traders, which Israel slashed to just 551 at the end of 2017 from about 3,600 two years earlier.

The United States has done the opposite, withholding $65 million from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees, including some 1.2 million in Gaza, many of whom rely on its regular handouts of flour, cooking oil and other staples.

Hamas itself has few ways to alleviate the crisis, according to Mr. Thrall and other Gaza experts.

It could retake control of Kerem Shalom, regaining vital revenue but inviting blame, and retribution, for the demise of reconciliation. It could seek intervention by Muhammad Dahlan, a Fatah leader exiled and reviled by Mr. Abbas, in hopes that Mr. Dahlan’s patron, the United Arab Emirates, might pour money into Gaza. Or it could muddle along, perhaps hoping that an expected American peace initiative might entail quieting Gaza with aid.

For the moment, those with money in Gaza are trying to help those without. A few merchants have forgiven customers’ debts. The Gaza Chamber of Commerce paid $35,000 to get 107 indebted merchants temporarily released from jail. A donor gave 1,000 liters of fuel to a hospital for its generator.

Photo
The Gaza Chamber of Commerce paid $35,000 to get 107 indebted merchants temporarily released from jail. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

But the fuel quickly ran out. Gestures only help so much. And Gaza residents invariably say that war is coming.

Hamas is under no illusions that it would fare better in the next fight than it did after its 2014 battle with Israel, Mr. Thrall said.

“Hamas sees how isolated they are in the region, and how isolated the Palestinians are at large,” he said. “Before, in wars, they could hope to light up the Arab street and pressure Arab leaders. But in 2014, there was barely a peep, and now it’s even more so.”

Still, whether out of bluster or desperation, Gazans both in and out of power have begun talking openly about confronting Israel over its blockade in the kind of mass action that could easily lead to casualties and escalation.

A social-media activist, Ahmed Abu Artema, is promoting the idea of a “Great Return,” a peaceable encampment of 100,000 protesters along the Israel-Gaza border. Mr. Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, envisioned a million or more Gazans taking part, though perhaps not so peacefully.

One way or the other, “an explosion’s coming,” said Mr. Abu Shaaban, the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority pensioner. “We have only Israel to explode against. Should we explode against each other?”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2372 on: February 12, 2018, 09:32:31 PM »

With its enemies distracted, Israel is seizing the opportunity to act. Early Feb. 10, the Israeli military detected an Iranian drone encroaching on Israeli airspace and shot it down. Taking things a step further, the Israeli air force then targeted the base in Syria that the drone operated out of. In the process, its aircraft came under heavy fire and an Israeli jet was shot down. The Israelis then launched another strike against 12 Syrian and Iranian sites in Syria, focusing primarily on infrastructure for air defense.

The large number of targets struck by Israeli forces in such a short period of time and the downing of an Israeli aircraft are both uncommon events. However, Israel routinely sends planes into Lebanese and Syrian airspace, and the country regularly carries out strikes on potential threats such as Syria's chemical weapons program or what Israel believes to be shipments of weapons to Hezbollah.

It's not clear what the Iranians were seeking to gain from a drone flight over Israeli positions beyond intelligence, but Iran, Syria and Hezbollah all have a strong incentive to once again deter Israeli actions. Even if all three want to avoid becoming embroiled in a major war with Israel at a time when their forces are already heavily committed to the Syrian battlefield, regional dynamics require that Israel be reminded it cannot simply continue to strike targets in Syria with impunity. If Iran, Syria or Hezbollah refuse to fight back, Israel will only be incentivized to carry out more airstrikes against them.

On the other hand, this latest flurry of strikes was highly indicative of Israel's continued restraint. Though recent events have demonstrated Israel's willingness to increase airstrikes while its adversaries are overstretched in the Syrian civil war, they have also highlighted the country's willingness to de-escalate attacks. Shortly after conducting airstrikes in response to the downing of its jet, Israel announced that it did not want the situation to escalate further and called on Russia to intervene to prevent further Iranian action.

Israel's restraint is likely caused largely by the considerable damage that a war with Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian government would bring, but Russia's presence in Syria is likely also a factor. Because Russia is heavily invested in Syria and has personnel on the ground in the country, Israel will need to be very careful in its campaign against Syrian targets to avoid escalating animosity beyond the tiny country's control.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2373 on: February 14, 2018, 11:22:06 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2018/02/13/caroline-glick-israel-deep-state-targets-netanyahu-bogus-charges/
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« Reply #2374 on: February 15, 2018, 10:19:50 AM »

An Israeli friend with strong IDF experience in his background comments on the Glick article:

"As for the article you sent..
It’s all biased depending on which political views you hold.
Personally I think BiBi is corrupt to the core, and the claim of his supporters that it is a conspiracy to overthrow him is ridiculous..

"He appointed the chief of police, he appointed the attorney General, and he appointed the state comptroller.
Now he cries they are all out to get him..?
Gimme a fucken break..

"The asshole got cought and I really hope they put his ass in Jail."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2375 on: February 15, 2018, 12:49:45 PM »

Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support
February 15, 2018
https://www.investigativeproject.org/7349/shin-bet-investigation-exposes-depth-of-turkey
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« Reply #2376 on: February 16, 2018, 11:28:18 AM »



    Danielle Pletka @dpletka

February 15, 2018 12:16 pm | AEIdeas
What’s new in foreign and defense policy

Give ‘maximum pressure’ a chance

The coming conflict between Iran and Israel


Last Friday night, the Iranian military crossed into Israel using a drone launched from a Syrian base. It’s not clear whether the UAV was armed or not, but it was likely a Saeqeh model based on designs reverse engineered from a downed US model.

Fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found, at the village of Alonei Abba, Israel February 10, 2018. REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun

Israel retaliated by striking the Tiyas air base from which the UAV was being controlled, prompting the launch of several volleys of anti-aircraft missiles which brought down an Israeli F-16I craft over Israeli territory. (The two pilots ejected.) Israel returned fire with a major air incursion into Syria, striking Iranian and Syrian targets.

This is a significant escalation on the part of the Iranians, and comes on the heels of the visit to Lebanon and Syria of a senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Sayyed Ibrahim Raisi, to the border with Israel. (Raisi is among those in contention to take over as Supreme Leader when Khamenei dies.) And for the Israelis, it sharpens the challenge they face with not just Hezbollah, the Iranian controlled terrorist group on its borders in Lebanon, but now a substantial Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) presence in Syria as well.

Israel has not been idly watching as Iran builds up its proxies in Syria and Lebanon. The IDF has hit Syria repeatedly, taking out shipments from Iran designed to up Iran’s proxy capabilities. But plenty has also happened without Israeli action, including new missile factories on Lebanese soil and a continued major build-up that will mean that when the next confrontation happens, it will be large, ugly, and with substantial collateral damage.

The steady escalation by Iran on Israel’s border belies the notion that Tehran is feeling any heat from the departure of the more pro-Iran Barack Obama and the arrival of Donald Trump, with his pledge to take the Iranian threat more seriously. Rather, Iran has continued to cut a wide swath throughout the Middle East, destabilizing the Iraqi government, continuing to cooperate with Russia in their campaign to restore Bashar al Assad to power in Syria, marching apace through Yemen via their proxy Houthi government, and, of course, consolidating their growing dominion over Lebanon.

I’ve written about Iran’s tightening grip on Beirut, only helped by the recent bizarre detention of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh. But the US government appears determined to ignore the Lebanese Armed Forces’ increasingly obvious cooperation with Hezbollah, as well as Hezbollah’s swelling arsenal throughout Lebanese territory.

Somehow, both Centcom and the State Department have persuaded themselves, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that Lebanon is somehow independent despite massive Iranian infiltration through Hezbollah. And even though Treasury officials have cottoned on to Hezbollah/Iran’s financial shenanigans ongoing in the Lebanese banking system, a stealthily passed add on to Lebanese election law now insulates all targeted parties from the effects of sanctions, anteing up Lebanese government cash to rescue any political party subject to financial action.

How does this all end? Simple. The United States has not availed itself of sufficient soft or hard power options vis a vis Iran in Syria, Yemen, or anywhere else in the region. Iran is rising inexorably, and inevitably, at least for Israel, there will be no choice but conflict.
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