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Posts tagged ‘Gaza Strip’

Kerry Reportedly Willing to Free Pollard in Palestinian Prisoner Swap.


Secretary of State John Kerry may be willing to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as part of a deal to free Palestinian prisoners, according to multiple Israeli press reports.

Kerry arrives in Israel during the first week of 2014, his 10th visit to the Middle East in less than a year on the job.

Israel’s Channel 10 was the first to report the possible deal that would free Pollard, who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing U.S. national defense information to the Israeli government. He is serving a life sentence.

But the report also noted that Pollard’s release isn’t likely since the deal has not been approved by President Barack ObamaFox News reports, however, that a source says Pollard is, indeed, part of a possible deal.

Fox noted, though, that it is unclear what price Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu might be asked to pay for Pollard’s release and whether he would even be willing to do so.

Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have in the past called for Pollard’s release.

Kerry’s arrival will come amid stepped up attacks by Palestinian groups amid peace talks between Israel and Palestinian leaders that began in July. He plans to meet with both Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

One symbolic sign of movement would be a face-to-face meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders as Kerry seeks to narrow differences – over borders, security, the rights of refugees and the status of Jerusalem – that have confounded U.S.-led efforts at mediation for years.

While Israel is in negotiations with leaders in the West Bank, the picture is different in Palestinian-occupied Gaza. There, Islamic Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and calls for its destruction.

A poll released this month by the West Bank-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip expect the Kerry-led talks to fail.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Crowds Throng Bethlehem for Christmas Eve Celebrations.


BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world packed the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations Tuesday, bringing warm holiday cheer to the biblical birthplace of Jesus on a cool, clear night.

The heavy turnout, its highest in years, helped lift spirits in Bethlehem as leaders expressed hope that the coming year would finally bring the Palestinians an independent state of their own.

“The message of Christmas is a message of peace, love and brotherhood. We have to be brothers with each other,” said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, as he arrived in town.

Excited tourists milled about the town’s Manger Square, stopping in restaurants and souvenir shops and admiring a large, illuminated Christmas Tree. Marching bands and scout troops performed for the visitors in the streets, and on a stage next to the tree.

Will Green of New York City, along with his wife, Debbie, and their 2-year-old daughter Daphne were among the crowds of people who greeted Twal’s motorcade as he entered town from nearby Jerusalem.

Green said that being in Bethlehem for Christmas was a dream come true. “All the stories that we grew up with. It’s here. It’s part of our life. We heard them in the family, school and church. This is the birthplace,” he said.

Green slowly pushed a stroller and his wife held their daughter as they followed a crowd toward the Church of the Nativity, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.

Palestinian dignitaries greeted Twal at the entrance of Bethlehem. His motorcade crawled through the town’s narrow streets as he stopped to shake hands and greet the throngs of visitors. It took him nearly 90 minutes to make the short trip to the Church of the Nativity compound, where he celebrated Midnight Massachusetts.

Hundreds of people packed the compound for the service. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh were among the dignitaries in attendance.

In his homily, Twal addressed Abbas, telling the president he prays for a “just and equitable solution” for the Palestinians. Twal, himself a Palestinian, also expressed sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, particularly families with relatives imprisoned by Israel or those who have suffered as a result of the conflict with Israel.

“The world is living through a long night of wars, destruction, fear, hate, racism and, at the present time, cold and snow,” he said. Lamenting strife in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, he also urged worshippers “not to forget our own problems here: the prisoners and their families who hope for their release, the poor who have lost their land and their homes demolished, families waiting to be reunited, those out of work and all who suffer from the economic crisis.”

Yet Twal called on people not to despair. “We are invited to be optimistic and to renew our faith that this land, home of the three monotheistic religions, will one day become a haven of peace for all people,” he said.

“Oh Holy Child, God of goodness and mercy, look with kindness on the Holy Land and on our people who live in Palestine, in Israel, in Jordan and all the Middle East. Grant them the gift of reconciliation so that they may all be brothers — sons of one God,” he said.

The number of visitors to Bethlehem remained below the record levels of the late 1990s, when Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts were at their height.

Following a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000, the numbers plunged. But thanks to a period of relative calm, they have been steadily climbing in recent years — and got an extra push this year thanks to the resumption of peace talks.

“Our message is a message of justice and peace,” said Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maayah. “We Palestinians are seeking peace and we deserve to have peace and our children deserve to live in peace.”

Maayah said the number of visitors to Bethlehem was expected to jump by about 14 percent from last year.

A spokesman said 10,000 foreign visitors had entered town by the early evening, slightly higher than last year. Israel’s Tourism Ministry, which coordinates the visits with the Palestinians, said the number could reach 25,000 during the holiday season.

Despite the Christmas cheer, Mideast politics loomed in the background. In order to enter Bethlehem, Twal’s motorcade had to cross through the hulking concrete separation barrier that Israel built during the uprising.

Israel says the barrier is needed to keep attackers from entering nearby Jerusalem, but Palestinians say the structure has stifled the town and stolen their land.

Maayah said that the barrier, along with nearby Israeli settlements and Israeli control of archaeological sites in the West Bank, has made it difficult to develop the tourism sector.

In addition, few Palestinians seem to think that the current round of peace talks will bear fruit. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry relaunched the talks last summer, but there have been no signs of progress.

Israel carried out a series of airstrikes and other attacks Tuesday in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the deadly shooting of an Israeli civilian who had been working along the border. The fighting, which left a 3-year-old Palestinian girl dead, was the heaviest in more than a year.

Christmas also serves as a reminder of the dwindling numbers of Christians who live in the Holy Land. Over the decades, tens of thousands of Christians have left, fleeing violence or in search of better opportunities overseas. Christians now make up a tiny percentage of the population.

Bethlehem is now only one-third Christian, with most residents Muslim. In an annual gesture, Israel permitted some 500 members of Gaza’s small Christian community to leave the Hamas-ruled territory and cross through Israel to attend the celebrations in Bethlehem.

But for one night at least, residents and visitors brushed aside their troubles to celebrate the holiday.

Nick Parker, a student from Georgia Tech University, said he was enjoying the food and making friends with local residents and fellow travelers.

“It’s special to be here where Jesus was born,” he said. “It’s a special opportunity, once in a lifetime.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Israel Police Blame Palestinian Militants for Bus Blast Near Tel Aviv.


Image: Israel Police Blame Palestinian Militants for Bus Blast Near Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM — A pipe bomb believed to have been planted by Palestinian militants exploded on board a bus in central Israel just moments after it had been evacuated, police said, in the most serious attack inside Israel in more than a year.

The explosion came at a sensitive time in Mideast peace efforts. Israel and the Palestinians resumed talks last summer for the first time in nearly five years, and the U.S.-brokered negotiations have made little visible progress. The explosion threatened to further poison what has become a tense and negative atmosphere.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there were no injuries in the blast, which took place in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam. The explosion blew windows out of the bus and charred the sides of the vehicle.

“Based on the findings at the scene by bomb disposal experts, it was a terrorist attack,” Rosenfeld said. “We’re continuing to search the area for suspects.”

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Rosenfeld said the nature of the target and the nature of the device led authorities to determine that militants, not criminals, were behind the bombing. He declined to elaborate, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

He said the bomb was discovered in a bag on the bus. The driver quickly ordered passengers to get off, and the bomb exploded shortly after as a bomb squad expert was inspecting it. The police sapper was not injured but was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

It was the most serious attack inside Israel since a bomb explosion wounded more than 20 people in Tel Aviv in November 2012. At the time, Israel was involved in heavy fighting with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

A decade ago, Israel experienced a rash of Palestinian suicide bombings on buses, in restaurants and in other public spaces. More than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis died in several years of fighting.

But tensions have subsided in recent years. The neighboring West Bank, however, has seen a recent uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence, thought senior Israeli officials believe the various incidents there have not been connected to each other.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Israelis Split Over Threat Posed by Calls For Jewish State Boycott.


JERUSALEM — Could Israel face a mounting global boycott of the type that ended apartheid in South Africa if it fails to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians by this spring?

Some liberal Israeli commentators have been sounding such warnings, and the outgoing European Union (EU) envoy to the Middle East said Thursday that support in Europe for sanctioning Israel over its settlement policies could gain steam if talks collapse.

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Israeli officials have been downplaying any potential repercussions, and this week the European Union dangled unprecedented incentives before Israelis and Palestinians to nudge them toward a deal.

But Palestinian grassroots activists and their foreign supporters say an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions — or BDS — against Israel is gaining momentum.

They point to recent successes, such as a decision this week by the American Studies Association, a group representing more than 3,800 U.S. scholars, to boycott Israeli academic institutions, though not individual Israeli colleagues.

Some activists say the death of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela earlier this month also invited comparisons between international anti-apartheid boycotts two decades ago and similar efforts now to pressure Israel to end its occupation of lands the Palestinians want for their state.

The BDS successes have been largely symbolic, and their impact on Israel’s robust economy has so far been negligible.

Israeli government officials have either dismissed the BDS campaign as ineffective or portrayed it as an attempt with strong anti-Semitic overtones to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, denounced the boycott decision of the U.S. scholars as a “travesty,” saying this week that “singling out of the Jewish state for boycott is no different than the many attempts throughout history to single out Jews and hold them to a different standard.”

While talk of boycott has unleashed strong emotions in Israel, government officials have been watching Europe’s more strident stance on Israeli settlements with greater concern.

Some 550,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967 along with the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians want a state in those lands and say Israel’s settlement building which only accelerated during the negotiations is jeopardizing the talks and pre-empting their outcome.

The EU has reiterated in recent months that it considers all settlements illegal and has taken steps to bring its actions more in line with its stated positions.

Europe has imposed a funding ban on Israeli research projects in the occupied territories that goes into effect next month.

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Earlier this week, EU diplomats warned Israel against new settlement announcements, saying that if negotiations collapse as a result, Israel would be held accountable.

The U.S.-led negotiations resumed in late July, after a five-year diplomatic impasse, and are to last for at least nine months.

On Wednesday, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, for the first time raised the possibility of an extension. He said that if the two sides reach a framework agreement on all main issues by the end of April, the Palestinians would be prepared negotiate for up to a year to work out the details of a comprehensive deal.

Previously, the Palestinians had said they reserve the right to walk away from the negotiations after nine months and explore other options, such as seeking wider international recognition.

The outgoing EU envoy to the Middle East, Andreas Reinicke, said in a phone interview from Brussels on Thursday that he believes a deal is possible and that the two sides “are starting to bridge the first gaps.”

Before the resumption of talks, the EU was discussing possible EU-wide recommendations on labeling Israeli settlement products, he said. Labeling could enable consumers to decide if they want to boycott such goods.

Reinicke said that when he started in his post in February 2012, only two of 28 EU member states supported the idea of labeling. Now, 14 states are in favor, he said. “There is movement in this direction,” he added.

“I think there is a general understanding among all 28 states that settlements are illegal under international law as long as there is no agreement on the border” between Israel and a state of Palestine, he said.

The discussions on labeling have been put on hold for now because Europe is working closely with Secretary of State John Kerry to support the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, said Reinicke, who leaves his post at the end of December.

Hoping to prod the sides, EU diplomats promised earlier this week that Israel and a future Palestine would win unprecedented access to the EU in new partnership agreements if they strike a peace deal.

In Israel, the aftermath of Mandela’s death and the recent BDS successes have sparked a domestic “boycott debate.”

Shmuel Inbar, a Middle East analyst, said Israel isn’t facing a serious threat.

“I don’t think that five months from now, the key issue on the international agenda is to start to go on a crusade for boycotting Israel,” he said. He said Europeans will realize “that they have much bigger problems to attend to.”

However, several liberal commentators said Israel must heed the warning signs.

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“For various reasons, the Western governments have turned a blind eye to the Israeli violation of human rights” in the occupied territories up to now, Aviad Kleinberg, a history professor at Tel Aviv University, wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily this week. “They usually make do with feeble condemnations and voicing pious concern for the future of ‘the conflict’.

“It appears as though this policy of turning a blind eye is going to end,” he wrote.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Palestinians: Kerry Appeasing Israel Over Iran — at Their Expense.


JERUSALEM — A senior Palestinian official said the United States was asking Palestinians to make security concessions in peace talks with Israel in order to silence the Jewish state’s criticism of world power diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program.The accusations by Yasser Abed Rabbo, who joined Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry last week, further clouded hopes of achieving a negotiated accord by an April target date.

Kerry, who is expected to return to the region late this week, presented both sides with suggestions on Thursday about how Israel might fend off future threats from a Palestinian state envisaged in West Bank land it now occupies.

Israel has long demanded that under any eventual accord it retain swaths of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as well as military control of the territory’s eastern Jordan Valley — effectively, the prospective Palestine’s border with Jordan.

But Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio that Kerry had plunged the process into crisis by seeking to “appease Israel through agreeing to its expansion demands in the [Jordan] Valley under the pretext of security.”

U.S. acquiescence to Israel’s security demands was aimed at “silencing the Israelis over the deal with Iran and achieving a fake progress in the Palestinian-Israeli track at our expense,” he said.

Abed Rabbo was referring to the Nov. 24 interim accord reached in Geneva between world powers and Iran, whereby it agreed to some curbs on its disputed nuclear program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions.

Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said on Monday there was no quid pro quo between the Iran and Palestine talks.

“These two issues concern both Israel’s security and our security and the interests of all the Middle East, that it be a more quiet and stable region. But we do not see any linkage in which we seek to give on one issue and receive on the other,” Shapiro told Israel’s Army Radio.

STRAINED TIES

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially condemned Geneva as an “historic mistake” that risked helping Iran’s limping economy, while leaving it with the means to make a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear drive is peaceful.

The Geneva deal further strained the Netanyahu government’s ties with the Obama administration, which is mindful of support for the Jewish state in Congress, though Netanyahu struck a more conciliatory tone last week.

Israel has not commented on the U.S. proposals but Cabinet minister Yaakov Peri said on Sunday the government had not yet agreed to them.

He said deep Palestinian pessimism over prospects for a deal, many Israelis also question whether Abbas would be able to keep his armed Islamist Hamas rivals, who rule the Gaza Strip and spurn coexistence with the Jewish state, to an eventual accord.

Shapiro said Gaza’s government would have to change for Palestinian statehood to be fully realized.

“We are talking about two states for two peoples,” Shapiro said. “The Palestinian state will also include Gaza. But there has to be a change to the regime there. That is clear.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Al-Qaida Terror Cell Takes Foothold in West Bank, Members Killed.


RAMALLAH, West Bank  — An al-Qaida-linked group said three militants killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces last week were its members, and that their presence there showed that the Islamist network had taken root in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Al-Qaida has struggled to build up significant support in the West Bank, analysts say, and the Palestinian Authority that administers the area last week denied an Israeli report the men were linked to the organization.

“By the will of God Almighty, the global jihadi doctrine has reached the bank of pride, the West Bank, planting its foothold after all attempts to thwart its presence,” said a statement posted by Majles Shura al-Mujahideen, or Holy Warriors’ Assembly, on an Islamist web forum.

Such groups have some grassroots support in the other Palestinian territory of Gaza, which is governed by the Islamist faction Hamas.

Israeli officials had said the three Palestinians killed on Tuesday belonged to an al-Qaida-linked cell plotting attacks.

They said the men were shot after opening fire at Israeli troops who tried to arrest them. The West Bank is policed by Israel in often close cooperation with the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority (PA).

On Sunday, PA security forces spokesman Adnan Damiri said he had no information about the presence of al-Qaida-linked groups in the West Bank but that Palestinian investigators were looking into Tuesday’s incident.

Many Palestinians chafe at security ties between the PA and Israel given the lack of clear progress in U.S.-sponsored peace talks between the sides. Those negotiations are billed as leading to Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, a territory extensively settled by Israel, as well as in the Gaza Strip.

In its online statement, Majles Shura al-Mujahideen denounced the peacemaking efforts and threatened attacks on Israel and the PA.

“We call on every sincere person to cut off what is called ‘negotiations’, which causes one’s nose to turn away with its foul stench of collaboration,” the statement said. “We are serious about fighting the aggression against religion by the blaspheming Jews and the hypocritical collaborators.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Israel Kills Three al-Qaida-linked Militants in West Bank.


HEBRON, West Bank — Israeli security officials said their forces killed three Palestinian militants Tuesday who were part of an al-Qaida-linked network in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers the territory, denied the three had any relation to al-Qaida and accused Israeli of setting out to kill the men.

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An official from Israeli’s Shin Bet security agency said it had learned from a number of earlier arrests that the network was planning attacks in the coming days against Israeli targets and against the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

Two of the men were killed when they opened fire on officers trying to arrest them in the area of the city of Hebron, the official said. A number of explosive devices and two guns were found in their vehicle, the official added.

The Israeli military said a third militant was killed in a gunfight after the initial clash.

Al-Qaida-inspired groups have a small presence in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, but are less common in the occupied West Bank, which is policed by Israeli and Palestinian Authority forces.

The Shin Bet official said the militant network had set up a safe house in the territory and was stockpiling weapons

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Are We Witnessing the Death of the Jewish State?.


Kerry and Abbas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Picture of the Mosque of Omar symbolizes the Palestinian goal of decreeing the ancient city of Jerusalem the Muslim Arab capital of a Palestinian state. (Reuters)

The world’s most prestigious newspaper, The New York Times, recently produced an article predicting Israel’s soon-coming demise.

Written by an illustrious University of Pennsylvania professor, Ian S. Lustick, it carefully outlined the reasons Lustick believes Israel will disappear.

Lustick’s logic is impeccable. From man’s perspective, there is no way Israel will be able to forever fight off those who want to destroy her. In fact, in the 46 years I have lived in Israel, I have watched almost the entire world turn against Israel.

Yes, there are still a few friends. Very few. The U.S., Canada, Australia with its new prime minister. Then there are a few fair-weather friends—off and on as the wind blows.

But how can a nation of 7 million Jews continue to fight off the whole world?

Professor Lustick ticks off his reasons with brilliant insight. On second thought, you don’t have to be a genius to see the insurmountable obstacles to peace facing little Israel surrounded by 23 Arab states filled with jihadists.

Yet most democratic nations are in denial as to Israel’s genuine vulnerability. On the other hand, the Islamic and autocratic regimes like Iran simply believe Israel’s destruction is on its way. Time is on Islam’s side.

As Lustick sees it, for 30 years every American president has enthusiastically brought his entire might and influence to the Middle East in order to “solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Only one time was there a tiny window for a possible breakthrough—in 1993, with the Oslo agreements.

That accord provided for the creation of a Palestinian interim self-government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). But the “insurmountable obstacles” were left for later. Nothing ever came of it.

Palestinian Demands

The obstacles are well known. Palestinians demand:

  1. Israel must hand over the Old City of Jerusalem to Muslim control, including the Western Wall—and including the surrounding “settlements” suburbs of Jerusalem.
  2. The 5 million Arab “refugees,” including children and grandchildren who have never been near Israel, must be allowed to move into Israel proper (and thus overwhelm the democratic state with several million new Muslim voters).
  3. The 500,000 Jews who live in East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria must vacate their homes for a new Arab population to take occupancy.

Will this happen? Of course not. If only one of these hurdles existed, there would never be a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel’s Demands

I must quickly admit that Israel does have some non-negotiable demands also:

  1. The Palestinians must officially agree to recognize the right of the Jewish state of Israel to exist.
  2. The Palestinians must officially agree to cease all violence and terrorist attacks against Israel and to stop pressing the U.N. to take steps to destroy Israel’s economy.

Practically speaking, the Palestinians would have to agree to allow the Israel Defense Forces to be stationed along the borders of a Palestinian state to keep terrorists from crossing into a new Palestinian state in order to infiltrate Israel.

Secondly, the Palestinians would have to pledge to make peace with the Jewish state once and for all and renounce all further demands in the future.

The Injustice of It All

But that’s not all. There are numerous other issues that are equally impossible to solve to the satisfaction of both sides. Here is an incomplete list:

  1. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state since the city’s existence of 4,000 years. It has been the capital of the Jewish people whenever they were allowed to live in the Holy Land.Arabs never thought about Jerusalem being their capital until the Jewish people began returning in droves to the city in the early 1900s. Now the Palestinians claim their incontrovertible right to make the entire eastern part of Jerusalem their capital.
  2. There has never been an Arab democratic state. Ever! The Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is, as expected, a dictatorship under President Mahmoud Abbas. His elected term was over in January 2009, but he still rules. An Islamic dictatorial regime on Israel’s borders would not produce “two states for two peoples living in peace and security.”
  3. The other half of the so-called future Palestinian state was supposed to be Gaza, but when Hamas leadership was democratically elected, it quickly seized absolute control of the Gaza Strip and now rules it with a rod of iron. PA officials in Gaza were either killed, jailed or are living very quietly so as not to rouse the anger of their Hamas rulers. Today there are two “Palestines” with two rulers.
  4. Every place from which Israel has withdrawn—Gaza, Southern Lebanon, the Sinai Desert—is now jam-packed with terrorists looking to attack and destroy Israel.
  5. Israel learned a very strong lesson: When Israel’s military troops and civilian settlers cleared out of Gaza, to the last Israeli, it did nothing to help Israel gain favor with the U.N., the European Union or the rest of the world. Israel gained only one thing: terrorists.
  6. The Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, claiming that Zionism is racism. (Zionism is the movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in Israel.) Arab arrogance is astonishing. There are 23 Arab Islamic states, and no one anywhere in the world labels them as racist states.
  7. The Palestinians and other Arab states continue to educate their citizens—claiming Israel illegally occupies Islamic land—through their school textbooks, music, TV and movies and through idolizing suicide bombers by naming streets and squares after them. They brainwash children from kindergarten on up to believe all of the land now occupied by Israel belongs to the Arab people and will one day be conquered and returned to the people of the Quran.
  8. A large percentage of the funding from Western states that is given to the PA goes into the pockets of its leaders. Everybody knows it. No one does a thing about it. Corruption in the PA is over the top. Predictably, it leaves the common Palestinians in poverty.
  9. The U.N. has cooperated closely with the Palestinians, the General Assembly giving them status in a first step as a nonmember observer, while other U.N. branches have embraced them wholeheartedly into their various agencies. Therefore, there is little motivation for Palestinians to make any concessions toward Israel’s security needs or to stop the fierce hostilities against Israel in the U.N.
  10. For example, from its beginning in 2006 to 2010, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed 48 percent of all its resolutions against Israel, the only country it has ever specifically condemned. (The UNHRC, of course, is dominated by Islamic states.) The council makes a yearly review of alleged human rights abuses of only one country in the world: Israel. Therefore, there is no motivation for Palestinians to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel; they are convinced that over time, the world will destroy Israel.
  11. The U.N. has created a special agency for Palestinians only (called UNRWA), giving hundreds of millions of dollars a year to them and hiring tens of thousands of Palestinians to work there. Why would the Palestinians give up the world’s bankrolling in exchange for renouncing its goal of destroying Israel?
  12. The world regularly blames Israel alone for the lack of progress in making peace with the Palestinians. Why would the Palestinians change their successful tactics one millimeter?
  13. Arabs have much larger families than Jews. One day they believe the Palestinians will take over Israel just through sheer demographics. (Popular saying: The Palestinians will destroy Israel through the Palestinian womb.) Why not just wait?

Conclusion: No Peace Treaty

For just some of these reasons, the professor whose article appeared in the New York Times has come to a reasonable conclusion: The time for a peace treaty creating “two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security is past.”

He lays the responsibility for this calamity, unsurprisingly, at the feet of Israel, which because of its government’s obstinancy is producing “isolation, emigration and hopelessness.” Lustick suggests that Israel will have to give up its “Zionism dream” of being a Jewish state and just melt into the Middle East. He writes, “Israelis whose families came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as ‘Eastern,’ but as Arab.”

Lustick then drifts into La La Land, suggesting “masses of downtrodden and exploited Muslim and Arab refugees, in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself could see democracy, not Islam, as the solution.”

Lustick forgot that earlier in his article he had explained that one of the reasons for the inability to create two peace-loving states is that “strong Islamist trends make a fundamentalist [under Shariah law] Palestine more likely than a small state under a secular [i.e., democratic] government.”

Hence the question remains: Why would both Israel and the Palestinians agree to another round of emotionally draining talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when both sides know there is absolutely no chance of a peace agreement?

The answer is so very simple. Both Israelis and Palestinians fear the loss of financial help from the U.S. and the EU, not to speak of the world’s disapproval if they don’t enthusiastically and vigorously engage in peace talks.

But back to Professor Lustick’s warning that the Jewish state at some not-too-distant future is about to disappear.

Human Wisdom Says Israel Is Fated to Disappear

Lustick is right! According to human reasoning, Israel is on its way out. It’s one thing to have 42 million armed Arabs working toward your demise. It’s still another to have 1.6 billion Muslims whose Quran says to kill the Jews. It’s even a greater threat when the entire United Nations continuously bashes Israel by passing resolution after resolution against Israel’s “apartheid state,” designed to brand her a parasite nation.

But when almost all of the Western democratic states—Europe, Scandinavia and sadly even Great Britain—stand against Israel and launch serious sanctions to choke off her economy, the peril is undeniable.

But alas, that is not all. When Israelis watch the United States, the No. 1 world power and Israel’s most faithful ally, weakening as a nation before their very eyes, reality says hope seems lost. But God!

Why Did God Repeat Himself So Often?

I used to wonder years ago why God repeated Himself so many times through His prophets, saying in the last days He was going to bring the Jewish people back to their homeland, declaring He would save, heal and deliver them. He would open their eyes. He would forgive their sins. He would heal their backsliding. He would make them strong against their enemies.

There are literally hundreds of such Scriptures. As I heard an amazing Orthodox rabbi say last night at the Eagles Wings’ Day of Prayer in Jerusalem, “The Bible is more powerful than the New York Times!”

The reason for this repetition is obvious. God did not want us to miss His intentions for Israel. Without God’s miraculous intervention, without His protection, without His promise to preserve Israel from her enemies, there is absolutely no hope at all.

What About Israel’s Salvation?

Here in Israel we see a nation of Jewish people who are yet far away from their God and His Word. In the midst of this spiritual wasteland, the Messianic Jewish believers are giving their lives to see our people come to salvation. We don’t see it yet. Well, perhaps we see a cloud the size of a man’s hand. But you can be sure that it is entirely a walk of faith. Strong faith.

So we are greatly encouraged when we see how year after year, God protects this nation against all odds. It’s just as it was when Yeshua the Messiah told a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. The Pharisees didn’t believe He had authority to do that. But then Yeshua said, “Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”

If God has been displaying His amazing power by preserving the modern state of Israel through countless wars, physical and verbal attacks from every side, and the determination of the world body to sanction her out of existence, then we know He will forgive Israel’s sins and the day will surely come when “all Israel shall be saved.”

This article was originally posted on the Maoz Israel Report.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Hamas Claims Responsibility for Tunnel Under Gaza-Israel Border.


Image: Hamas Claims Responsibility for Tunnel Under Gaza-Israel Border

An Israeli soldier exits the entrance of a recently-discovered tunnel dug by Palestinians beneath the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

GAZA CITY, Gaza — Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility on Sunday for a tunnel that Israel said was found beneath the heavily fortified Israel-Gaza frontier.

A website for a Hamas radio station called al Aqsa said the group’s armed wing was responsible for what it called the “Khan Younis Tunnel,” named for a part of the coastal territory where the subterranean passage was found.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the Islamist group’s military wing, said in an interview broadcast by the station that the movement’s armed brigades “dug the tunnel, they were responsible for it.”

Ubaida said the tunnel had been dug in an effort to try and force Israel to release some of the thousands of prisoners it holds in its jails. In 2011, Israel freed 1,400 inmates for the return of soldier Gilad Shalit, who militants had captured and spirited across the Gaza border in 2006 through a tunnel.

Israel announced a week ago the discovery of the latest tunnel, which is 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in length, along the Gaza frontier, and accused Hamas of being behind its construction.

The Israeli military said the tunnel, dug in sandy soil, had been reinforced with concrete supports. Israel responded by halting the transfer of building material to Gaza.

For years, Israel had refused to allow these goods into the territory because it said militants would use them to build fortifications and weapons.

In 2010, as part of its easing of its internationally-criticized Gaza blockade, Israel gave foreign aid organizations the green light to import construction material for public projects. Last month, Israel resumed the transfer of cement and steel to Gaza’s private sector.

Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007, a year after winning a Palestinian election, from forces loyal to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas. The movement is shunned by the West over its refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Hamas Official: Gaza Tunnel Was Built to Kidnap Israelis.


Image: Hamas Official: Gaza Tunnel Was Built to Kidnap Israelis

An Israeli soldier stands at the exit of a tunnel discovered near the Israel-Gaza border on Oct. 13.

Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 03:40 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

A Hamas official has indirectly acknowledged his organization’s responsibility for digging a sophisticated tunnel under the Gaza-Israel border, saying it was built to facilitate the transfer of a kidnapped Israeli into Gaza and to help free Palestinian militant prisoners,The Times of Israel reported.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, indicated in a posting on his personal Facebook page that the jihadist group planned to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian militants serving prison sentences in Israel.

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“The tunnel which was revealed was extremely costly in terms of money, effort and blood. All of this is meaningless when it comes to freeing our heroic prisoners,” wrote Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, on his personal Facebook page.
After the Israel Defense Forces found the new tunnel on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Shlomo Turgeman, head of the IDF Southern Command, stated that had if Hamas used the tunnel to carry out a terrorist attack against Israel, the Israeli response would “leave Gaza looking very different.”
No explosives were found in the tunnel, leading Israeli military officials to conclude that it was dug for the purpose of kidnapping more Israelis.
“It would not have been possible to free hundreds of our prisoners without the Shalit tunnel,” Marzouk said, referring to the June 2006 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006 near Israel’s border with Gaza.
Shalit was smuggled under the fence through a tunnel dug in advance by Hamas. He was freed in an October 2011 deal between Israel and Hamas, in which Jerusalem released 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners.
The prisoner exchange divided terror Israeli terror victims and their families, the Jerusalem Post reported at the time.While the Shalit family, government officials and others argued that the deal was the only way to bring a kidnapped Israeli home, many terror survivors said the prisoner releases would embolden terrorists and encourage more violence.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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