Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Israeli fatally stabbed by Palestinian in West Bank

September 16, 2018

A Palestinian fatally stabbed an Israeli-American man near the entrance to a mall in the occupied West Bank on Sunday before being shot and wounded at the end of a brief foot chase, officials said.

The man killed, Ari Fuld, was a right-wing activist who has appeared regularly on television, but a police spokesman said there was no indication he was targeted for that reason.

Fuld, 45, was a father of four who lived in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, near the mall where he was stabbed.

Israeli forensic policemen inspect the site where an Israeli man was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian near a mall at the Gush Etzion junction near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on September 16, 2018
Israeli forensic policemen inspect the site where an Israeli man was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian near a mall at the Gush Etzion junction near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on September 16, 2018 (AFP Photo/AHMAD GHARABLI)

The Palestinian attacker was 17-year-old Khalil Jabareen, from the village of Yatta in the southern West Bank, according to Palestinian security sources.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Jabareen was moderately wounded.

Image result for Ari Fuld,, photos

Ari Fuld

The incident took place at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, according to Israel’s military, which provided the details of the stabbing.

Surveillance footage shared on news sites and social media showed the assailant approaching an older man near the mall entrance and stabbing him several times.

He is then pursued by civilians and shot nearby.

There is regular friction between Israelis and Palestinians at the junction, which lies near a major Israeli settlement bloc and has been the site of numerous lone-wolf Palestinian attacks.

– Vocal defender of Israel –

Fuld created a Facebook page called “Israel Defense Page” and was a hardline defender of Israel in his television appearances.

During last year’s march by right-wing Israelis through east Jerusalem’s Old City to commemorate 50 years since Israel seized control of it in the Six-Day War, Fuld said it was a “miraculous day” for Jews.

“Today we are celebrating the unification of Jerusalem,” he said.

Image result for Israel Defense Page, photos

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Twitter that “America grieves as one of its citizens was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist.”

“Ari Fuld was a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “in the name of every citizen of Israel, I send my condolences to the family of Ari Fuld, who was murdered today in a terrorist attack”.

“He was an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth about Israel.”

A wave of Palestinian knife attacks against Israelis broke out in 2015, but they have since become sporadic.

On September 3, a Palestinian wielding a knife approached an Israeli military checkpoint near the hardline Kiryat Arba settlement in the Hebron area and was shot dead by soldiers, according to the army.

In a stabbing attack on July 26 in the West Bank settlement of Adam, one Israeli was killed and two wounded. The 17-year-old Palestinian attacker was shot dead.

There are concerns that tensions between Israelis and Palestinians will increase this month as Jews celebrate their high holidays and pay more visits to holy sites.

In previous years, increased Jewish visits to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City — what Jews call the Temple Mount — have led to such tensions.

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Israel annexed east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

While protests and clashes have continued at varying levels along the blockaded Gaza Strip border since March 30, the West Bank has remained relatively calm.

In the Gaza unrest, at least 179 Palestinians have been killed since March 30. One Israeli soldier has been killed in the Gaza border area since then.

Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, of seeking to use the protests to carry out attacks or infiltrations.

It says its actions are necessary to defend the border.

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Palestinians and rights groups say protesters have been shot while posing little threat.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.




Trump’s War on Palestinian Refugees Is as Heartless as Anything He’s Done

September 12, 2018


Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast


To me, that one word best sums up Donald Trump. We’ve seen Trump’s cruelty on display time and time again, from his inhumane policy of separating children from parents attempting to cross our Southern border to his glee in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take health insurance away from millions to his giddiness while mocking a disabled reporter who had simply dared to contradict him.

So I shouldn’t be surprised that Trump’s cruelty has now been turned towards Palestinian refugees. After all, like with Trump’s other acts of cruelty, it’s all designed to bring joy to his right-wing base.

My father was a Palestinian refugee who came to America in search of a better life in the 1950s. At that time and through 2016, America represented a nation that welcomed “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But clearly that has changed with Trump, a man who simply doesn’t embrace the values that made America truly great.

Trump, though, is not content in just turning away refugees from America. He now wants to punish refugees who live thousands of miles away. And to accomplish that, Trump is waging a coordinated, unholy war to make Palestinian refugees suffer. I’m not talking his moving of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or his recent closing of the PLO mission in Washington, D.C.; I mean actions that will cruelly cause women and children to suffer.

Trump’s most heartless act was the announcement a few weeks ago to end our nation’s contribution of approximately $360 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA.) This agency, created in 1948 to help the approximately 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forcibly removed from the homes by Israeli military forces, is today a lifeline for a little over five million Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank as well as in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

How does UNRWA help people? Its staff works with local government agencies to provide housing, health care, social services, and especially education for refugee children who would otherwise not be able to obtain an education. As Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for UNRWA, detailed, their work is vital to the “526,000 children who receive a daily education from UNRWA; 3.5 million sick people who come to our clinics for medical care; 1.7 million food insecure people who receive assistance from us, and tens of thousands of vulnerable women, children and disabled refugees who come to us.”

UNRWA is the only place these refugees—these human beings—often have to turn for flour, rice, canned meat, medicine, school textbooks, and other supplies this agency distributes. In Gaza alone, where unemployment is at nearly 50 percent, more than half of the Palestinians there depend on UNRWA’s aid simply to survive.

But now Trump is ending our nation’s contribution, which represents almost a third of the agency’s budget. Why? Simple. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other right-wingers believe that somehow these refugees pose a threat to the “Jewish character of Israel.”

Their very existence is apparently a danger because they still harbor dreams of returning to their ancestral homeland. In fact, Netanyahu, who in the past has dismissively referred to those being helped by UNRWA as “fictitious refugees,” has applauded Trump’s decision to end UNRWA funding as a “blessed event.” No wonder Trump and Netanyahu get along so well; they share the same cruel spirit.

And you don’t need to be an expert in terrorism to understand that if you take away a desperate people’s food, education, and other basics of civilized life, you create the perfect storm for terrorists to recruit. In fact, Israeli security expert Amos Gilad expressed that very concern, noting that if UNRWA no longer has the funds to function, the void will be filled by groups like Hamas.

But Trump’s cruelty to Palestinians doesn’t end there. Over the weekend, Trump administration officials announced cutting $25 million in funding for hospitals in East Jerusalem that provide care for Palestinians there.

Reverend Martin Junge, who is also a doctor at the Lutheran Hospitals, made it clear in an online statement what the impact of Trump’s cuts means to them: “The funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network is critical to ensure ongoing, lifesaving treatment for patients from the West Bank and Gaza.” He urged Trump and Congress “to urgently address this critical situation to ensure that the lifesaving treatments can continue uninterrupted.”

If that were not enough cruelty for Trump, his State Department announced a few weeks ago that it was cutting $200 million in funding to the Palestinians that had been allocated for economic programs in Gaza and the West Bank. This money, which could have helped Palestinian infrastructure programs, will simply be spent in other parts of the world per the State Department.

And on top of this, on Monday, John Bolton, veteran neocon and now Trump’s national security adviser, announced the closing of the Palestinian mission in Washington. In response, Palestinian official Saeb Erekat summed up this decision as “yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people.” But even so, closing or moving buildings is nothing when compared to the cruelty of Trump’s cutting funding for hospitals, schools, and basic food needed to survive.

Trump’s cruelty truly knows no bounds. And sadly it appears that his base, which consists primarily of conservative Evangelicals who fervently support Israel in the hopes it hastens the return of Jesus, too, have no problem with Trump’s un-Christian actions. Without a hint of irony, these so-called Christians support making the poor suffer in the name of Jesus.

If Trump’s cruelty disgusts you then there’s one simply way to express it that is effective: Vote on Nov. 6. That’s the day we can send a clear message with our ballots that as a nation, we are far better than Donald J. Trump.

Al-Qaeda leader: Moving embassy to Jerusalem is proof the US is enemy of Islam

September 12, 2018

On 9/11, bin Laden’s successor Ayman al-Zawahiri calls on Muslims to wage war against the United States throughout the world


Still image from video obtained on September 11, 2012, of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking from an undisclosed location. (AFP/Site Intelligence Group)

Still image from video obtained on September 11, 2012, of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking from an undisclosed location. (AFP/Site Intelligence Group)

CAIRO — Marking the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the leader of al-Qaeda on Tuesday called on Muslims to wage war against the United States throughout the world.

In a 30-minute speech released Tuesday, Ayman al-Zawahiri went to great lengths to portray the United States as a religious enemy of Muslims, using Washington’s transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as evidence of that enmity.

The Washington-based SITE group, which monitors media material by militants across the world, released an English transcript of the speech.

“America [is] the number one enemy of Muslims … despite of its professed secularism,” al-Zawahiri said in the video. He listed 14 directives to fight the United States, including an appeal for Muslim unity and jihadists close ranks.

FILE – In this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, as seen from the New Jersey Turnpike near Kearny, New Jersey, smoke billows from the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York after airplanes crashed into both towers. (AP Photo/Gene Boyars, File)

Al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden, a founder of al-Qaida who masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans. He was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011.

In this 1998 file photo made available on March 19, 2004, Osama bin Laden is seen at a news conference in Khost, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File)

On Tuesday US, President Donald Trump paid tribute to the “heroes” who fought back against hijackers on September 11, 2001, vowing America would never flinch in the face of evil and that he would do whatever it takes to keep the country safe.

Under a grey sky in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Trump praised the courage of the 40 men and women aboard Flight 93 who rushed the four hijackers who had diverted the plane and were targeting Washington.

“This memorial is now a message to the world. America will never, ever submit to tyranny,” Trump said, noting that nearly 5.5 million Americans have joined the US military since 9/11.

“As commander-in-chief, I will always do everything in my power to prevent terrorists from striking American soil,” the president added, while also paying tribute to the nearly 7,000 US service members who have been killed “facing down the menace of radical Islamic terrorism.”

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at the site of a new memorial on September 11, 2018 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed during the September 11 attacks, as somber ceremonies take place at Ground Zero in New York and at the Pentagon. ( AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm)

It’s not the first time al-Zawahiri has linked the US embassy move to Jerusalem to the call for war against the US.

In a speech in May al-Zawahiri said America’s decision to shift its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem was evidence that negotiations and “appeasement” have failed Palestinians as he urged Muslims carry out jihad against the United States.

In a five-minute video entitled “Tel Aviv is Also a Land of Muslims,” the Egyptian doctor  referred to the Palestinian Authority as the “sellers of Palestine” while urging followers to take up arms.

Trump “was clear and explicit, and he revealed the true face of the modern Crusade, where standing down and appeasement does not work with them, but only resistance through the call and jihad,” Zawahiri said, according to a transcript provided by the SITE monitoring agency.

He argued that Islamic countries had failed to act in Muslims’ interests by entering into the United Nations, which recognizes Israel, and submitting to Security Council and General Assembly resolutions instead of sharia (Islamic law).

Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.

The development delighted the Israeli government, but angered Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Most European countries have slammed Trump’s move as not in line with international consensus, preferring to wait on recognizing the city until the status of Jerusalem is finalized in talks with the Palestinians.

Trump is pushing the Middle East to face reality in Palestine

September 4, 2018

In a blow to decades of myth-based policy, Team Trump last week cut all US funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — a special body that does as much to distort the peace process as to help Palestinian refugees.

Since its founding in 1949 to take care of, as The Post’s Benny Avni put it, the roughly “750,000 Arab refugees from the war Israel’s neighbors launched to erase it off the map,” UNRWA has worked not to end that refugee crisis but to prolong it.

Key to that perverse mission has been the decision to grant refugee status to the descendants of the original ones — a rule applied for no other refugees in all the decades since World War II and the founding of the United Nations.

New York Post

Where a normal accounting would have the population down to a few tens of thousands, UNRWA recognizes some 5 million Palestinian “refugees,” including even great-great-grandchildren whose families have been citizens of Jordan and other nations for decades.

Trump is pushing the Middle East to face reality in Palestine

And Palestinian leaders continue to claim that any final peace deal must grant a “right of return” to Israel to all 5 million. Worse, UNRWA-overseen schools, media and so on work to keep those grievances fresh. UNRWA staff are also regularly caught enabling terrorists in attacks on Israelis.

The UNRWA cutoff needn’t, and shouldn’t, mean an end to US aid to Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, but the State Department will have to find partners who can provide the help without the ideology.

This is the latest step in the administration’s broad reordering of Mideast policy to recognize reality, including the cutoff of $200 million-plus a year in grants to the Palestinian Authority because it refuses to stop paying salaries to convicted terrorists and their families as well as the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

As Trump warned the Palestinian leadership in January: The “hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support” from America is “on the table and the money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”

Getting to a deal just won’t be possible until all sides face the truth.



A child works at a shop across from a poster of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat

U.S. envoy Kushner calls UNRWA corrupt, inefficient, unhelpful for peace

A Palestinian woman takes part in a protest against possible reductions of the services and aid offered by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City August 16, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)


US team asked Abbas about Jordan-Palestinian confederation: NGO

September 2, 2018

US officials working on a Middle East peace plan have asked Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas about forming a confederation with Jordan, Abbas told activists Sunday, according to one of them.

Abbas recounted the conversation he had with White House aides Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt during a meeting with Israeli peace activists in Ramallah, said Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now NGO, who attended.

According to Ofran, Abbas said he told the US officials he would only be interested if Israel was also part of such a confederation.

© AFP/File | Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 15, 2018

It was not clear when the conversation took place, though Abbas has declined to meet with the White House since US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

Abbas’s office confirmed Sunday’s meeting with the peace activists, but not the comments on the confederation.

Israeli media also reported Abbas’s comments on the confederation proposal. Ofran said Abbas did not go into further detail.

A Palestinian-Jordan confederation has been favoured by some on the Israeli right as a way to avoid granting full state status to the Palestinians for now.

In such an arrangement, Israel could also avoid taking responsibility for the some 3.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas’s response was essentially a way of torpedoing the proposal since Israel would likely not agree to join such an arrangement, Ofran told AFP.

“He did say that Kushner and Greenblatt came to him and asked ‘would you agree to a confederation with Jordan’,” Ofran said, stressing she was paraphrasing his remarks.

“And he said, ‘I will agree to a confederation with Jordan and with Israel only.'”

Abbas meets occasionally with Israeli peace activists and left-wing politicians.

Sunday’s meeting included members of Peace Now and other organisations, as well as two Israeli parliament members.

Palestinian leaders see US President Donald Trump’s administration as blatantly biased in favour of Israel.

In addition to the Jerusalem recognition, Washington last week announced it was ending funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The previous week, it announced it was cancelling more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians.

Trump has pledged to unveil a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, saying he wanted to reach the “ultimate deal”.

His son-in-law Kushner has been among those working on the plan.

Ofran said Abbas also spoke of the right of return for Palestinian refugees during Sunday’s meeting, long a major issue in peace efforts.

She said Abbas told the meeting that he would not push for a solution for refugees that would “destroy Israel,” but for a compromise that could be agreed upon.

More than 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

They and their descendants are now classified as refugees and Palestinian leaders continue to call for at least some of them to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.

Israel says Palestinians must give up the so-called right of return.



Abbas voices support for tripartite ‘confederation’ with Israel and Jordan

September 2, 2018

In meeting with Israeli peace activists, PA leader appears to dramatically depart from longstanding insistence on a two-state solution

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president's assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has voiced interest in a tripartite confederation with Jordan and Israel, in what would appear a dramatic departure from his longstanding insistence on a two-state solution, according to Israeli peace activists and a Palestinian official.

According to the dovish Peace Now group, a senior delegation of which met Abbas on Sunday in Ramallah, the Palestinian leader said senior US administration officials Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt asked him recently about his opinion of a “confederation with Jordan.”

“‘I said [to Kushner and Greenblatt]: Yes, I want a three-way confederation with Jordan and Israel.’ I asked them if the Israelis would agree to such a proposal,” a statement by Peace Now quoted Abbas as saying.

Abbas, 83, reportedly described US President Donald Trump and his Middle East peace envoys as “hostile” to the Palestinian people, citing Washington’s decision to dramatically cut aid.

But Abbas said Trump had assured him of his support for a two-state solution and that he himself was in favor of a demilitarized Palestinian state with NATO securing the agreement, according to Peace Now.

While some Israelis who are opposed to an independent Palestinian state have long suggested some kind of confederation, with or without Jordan, the PA has so far clung to its demand for sovereignty in the framework of a two-state solution.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Abbas’s statements.

The US administration has also not commented on the report.

Mahmoud al-Habash, Abbas’s religious affairs adviser who was present at the meeting, confirmed to The Times of Israel the content of the Peace Now statement.

Peace Now executive director Shaqued Morag with PA President Abbas in Ramallah (right), September 2, 2018 (courtesy Peace Now)

Sunday’s meeting with Abbas was attended by Peace Now executive director Shaqued Morag, Meretz MK Mossi Raz (a former Peace Now director) and Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova.

According to the PA’s official Wafa news agency, “peace activists” from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party attended the meeting as well.

“I have a problem with Netanyahu, not with Likud,” Peace Now quoted Abbas as saying.

Abbas further said that the Israeli government refuses to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians, despite the fact that Russia, Japan, Belgium, and the Netherlands have repeatedly offered to host peace talks, according to the Peace Now statement.

At the meeting, Abbas also said he supports Israel’s security, underlining that the Palestinian and the Israeli security forces work together “on a daily basis” and that he and his people “do anything possible so that no Israeli gets hurt,” according to Peace Now.

“Abu Mazen [Abbas] added that he meets with the head of the Shin Bet [Nadav Argaman] on this subject and emphasized that on security matters the two sides agree on 99 percent of the topics,” the statement said.

An official Palestinian source told The Times of Israel that Abbas has met with the head of the Shin Bet security service more than once in recent months.

Abbas, in the meeting, also criticized the US for its alleged determination “to completely destroy UNRWA,” the international agency caring for thousands of Palestinians considered refugees by much of the international community.

Over the weekend, the US State Department announced the administration will cease funding the agency, a move that was applauded in Israel but condemned by many other countries.

“Seventy percent of Gaza residents are refugees. Most of them live off UNRWA’s assistance,” Abbas told his Israeli guests. “Then President Trump says to cancel UNRWA and give humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza. How is it possible that one on the one hand you cancel UNRWA and on the other hand help Palestinian residents?”

Morag, the Peace Now head, told Abbas that there was a “large peace camp” in Israel and that her organization would ask the political parties and the Israeli public to commit themselves to advancing an agreement between the two sides.

Wafa’s report on the meeting did not mention any talk of a confederation.

“Irregardless of the challenges and difficulties in the way of achieving peace, we must make it for the sake of a better future for our children and youth,” Abbas told the Israeli delegation, according to the Palestinian news agency.

“The Palestinian side’s hand is always extended to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on legitimate international resolutions and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he went on.

“Despite all the difficult circumstances surrounding us, we still believe in peace on the basis of resolutions of international legitimacy and the two-state solution.”

Trump officials have said they are finishing their peace plan and working on rolling it out, but have not offered any timeline. Details of the plan have remained firmly under wraps.

Palestinian officials have been boycotting the White House since Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump has said he does not necessarily endorse a two-state solution, breaking with decades of US policy and saying in 2017 that he would back whatever formula both sides decide on.

Jordan’s King Abdullah recently warned Trump about the possibility of a one-state solution, according to a Channel 10 report last month, citing French sources.

“Many young Palestinians don’t want the two-state solution anymore, but would rather live together with the Israelis in one state with equal rights for all… The result will be that Israel will lose its Jewish character,” Abdullah reportedly told Trump. Trump reportedly then replied, “What you say makes sense. … [In a one-state scenario,] the prime minister of Israel in a few years will be called Mohammed.”

Also last month, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he saw “no reason to evacuate settlements” in a peace deal, a Likud lawmaker said.

Adam Rasgon and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.


Abbas: Trump’s Team Offered Me to Establish a Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation

September 2, 2018

Palestinian President Abbas said he would agree to such an offer only if Israel is a part of the confederation

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint press conference in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, May 3, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint press conference in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, May 3, 2017.Bloomberg

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace team offered him a political plan based on forming a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.

According to Abbas, he told the administration that he would only agree to such a plan if Israel is part of the suggested confederation.

Abbas spoke in Ramallah at a meeting with Israeli left-wing movement Peace Now and Israeli lawmakers. “I was asked if I believe in a federation with Jordan,” Abbas said about a talk he held with Trump’s aide and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. “I answered: Yes, I want a confederation with Jordan and Israel. I have asked the Israelis if they would agree to such an offer.”

Abbas also said that the U.S. is “hostile towards the Palestinians and closing down the peace process. The U.S. wants to completely sabotage UNRWA.”

>> Opinion: Trump’s rule-breaking doctrine on the Mideast is an optical illusion

The Palestinian president did not detail the administrative implications of such a plan and what level of autonomy a Palestinian state would have under a Jordanian confederation. According to him, he completely rejected the offer as long as Israel is not mentioned as a party.

In his meeting with Israeli lawmakers, Abbas expressed willingness to agree to a land-swap agreement, but did not clarify what that would entail in terms of a potential evacuation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The Palestinian president also noted that he meets with Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman from time to time.

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told members of the American Jewish Congress that “there is no capacity to have peace with the Palestinians unless there’s peace with all the Palestinians, including the million and a half in Gaza.”

Friedman went on to clarify that this “means there should be ideally one government [for the Palestinians]… If you go around the PA and somehow try to restructure Gaza without them, you’re giving a tremendous prize to Hamas… with all the failings of the PA if the choice is Hamas we pick the PA.”

The U.S. ambassador reiterated, as he has publicly on several occasions in the past, that Trump’s administration won’t make Israel suffer negative consequences over the transfer of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Friedman also clarified that the only price President Trump is asking the two sides to pay is to demonstrate willingness to advance in peace talks.

Friedman also confirmed a recent statement by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton that the administration did not have an exact deadline for the unveiling of its peace plan, and that it will not be presented at the upcoming UN General Assembly session.

John McCain remembered as defender of Israel, principled hero

August 26, 2018

Jewish groups and Israeli politicians honor late senator for his commitment to the security of the Jewish state, as well as his ability to rise above politics

John McCain (R-AZ) addresses the media at the end of his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, March 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Marco Longari/POOL)

John McCain (R-AZ) addresses the media at the end of his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, March 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Marco Longari/POOL)

Israeli leaders praised John McCain as a “true friend” to the country early Sunday, as tributes for the long-time legislator and one-time presidential candidate poured in following his death at age 81.

In the US and Israel, McCain was remembered by politicians, Jewish groups and others as an American hero, friend and someone unafraid to speak truth to power.

President Reuven Rivlin described McCain as a “great leader, a defender of his people, a man of strong values, and a true supporter of Israel.”

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) called McCain “a war hero who continued to fight in public life for his beliefs with a clear and steady voice until his last days.”

“He loved Israel and believed in its righteousness and always supported its security. Israel owes him a big thanks. I had the privilege of working with him and will always remember the rare person he was,” added Livni, who was foreign minister when McCain visited Israel in 2008.

Senator John McCain, right ,Senator Joseph Lieberman, center, and Senator Lindsay Graham in a meeting with Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem on March 19 2008. (Yossi Zamir/ Flash90)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said McCain was “one of Israel’s biggest friends.”

“He loved his land with all his might and he recognized Israel’s challenges. Over 36 years of public service in the House of Representatives and Senate, Israeli governments knew they always had a friend in him,” she wrote on Twitter.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also called McCain “true friend to Israel.”

McCain, a Republican who served in the US Senate for three decades and ran for president twice, had been a staunch supporter of Israel during his long career in American politics.

He died Saturday at his ranch in Arizona after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. On Saturday night, a black hearse accompanied by a police motorcade could be seen driving away from the ranch near Sedona where the Republican senator spent his final weeks.

“My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the the place he loved best,” McCain’s widow Cindy wrote on Twitter.

The scion of a decorated military family, McCain embraced his role as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pushing for aggressive US military intervention overseas and eager to contribute to “defeating the forces of radical Islam that want to destroy America.”

That robust interventionist streak included a fierce commitment to standing by Israel.

“A passionate advocate for American global leadership, Senator McCain rightly bemoaned those who favored a US pullback from world affairs,” David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement.

Senator John McCain, left, with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on March 19, 2008. (Matty Stern/US Embassy/Flash90)

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called McCain “an extraordinarily courageous defender of liberty.

“Throughout his congressional career Senator McCain stood with Israel because throughout his life he stood up for America’s allies and our shared democratic values,” its statement said.

And McCain’s willingness to reach across the aisle even to liberal Democrats, which likely kept some conservatives away from the polls, extended to the Jewish community, where he worked with human rights activists.

“He was a tireless champion of the issues and principles that he held dear, from reforming the broken campaign finance system, to the effort to bar the use of torture by US authorities, to his pivotal vote just last year to save the Affordable Care Act,” said Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, who directs the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center. “On those issues and others including combating climate change and strengthening US-Israel relations, we were honored to work with him. And when we engaged him around areas of disagreement, Sen. McCain was always honest and straightforward.”

In its statement mourning McCain, the Jewish Democratic Council of America noted that he “rose above politics and represented his values.”

Joe Lieberman, left, and John McCain visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City March 19, 2008. (Nati Shohat /FLASH90)

McCain’s willingness to buck his party was perhaps most pronounced in his outspokenness on torture, and that was an issue where he found common cause with liberal Jews. He had a long meeting with Rabbis for Human Rights (the group now known as T’ruah) in 2005 and it left an impression. The group briefed McCain on Israel’s High Court ban on torture in 1999 – and it subsequently became a talking point for him.

McCain first visited Israel in the late 1970s, and a scene at Ben Gurion Airport fused what were to become two overarching passions in his political career: Israel and human rights. McCain was accompanying Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson D-Wash., who had spearheaded pressure on the Nixon and Ford administrations to squeeze the Soviet Union into allowing Jewish emigration.

“And I will never forget at the airport there was a crowd of people that were there to show their appreciation for Scoop, and he stopped some in the crowd and told us to stop so that he could greet Nathan Sharansky’s wife, and I will never forget that one as long as I live,” McCain said in a 2008 campaign interview with the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.

He visited Israel several more times over his career, including a number of times with friend and fellow senator Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who ran as candidate for vice president with Al Gore in 2000.

Left to right: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Sen, John McCain, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sen. Christopher Coons, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and US Ambassador to ISrael Dan Shapiro (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO /Flash90)

Left to right: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Sen, John McCain, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sen. Christopher Coons, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

The friendship even earned a gibe from Jon Stewart, the late-night comedian who was both a friend and nemesis of McCain. Someone ought to tell the senator, he joked on the “The Daily Show,” that there are plenty of Jews in Israel; he doesn’t have to bring his own.

McCain had also run for president in 2000, but ultimately lost the Republican primary to George W. Bush. In 2008, he considered making Lieberman his running mate, but the GOP establishment resisted, saying Lieberman’s backing for reproductive rights would drive away conservatives, and McCain at the last minute chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin instead.

In the 2008 election and later on, McCain was a vigorous advocate of using all means of pressure to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“I have to look you in the eye and tell you that the United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust,” he told Israel’s Channel 2 during the campaign.

Senator John McCain, US Presidential candidate for the Republican Party, visits Hall of names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on March 18, 2008. ( Michal Fattal/ Flash90)

McCain repeatedly hammered Obama for his expressed willingness to meet with Iran’s leaders and later on led the charge against the 2015 deal spearheaded by Obama that swapped sanctions relief for a partial rollback of Iran’s nuclear program.

In 2016, he called a UN Security Council resolution slamming Israel for West Bank settlements building, which passed after the US withheld its veto, “another shameful chapter.”

John McCain


Passage of resolution on Israeli settlements marks another shameful chapter in @UN‘s bizarre anti- history 

Others, from President Donald Trump to Senate leader Chuck Schumer, also mourned McCain’s passing late Saturday and early Sunday.

Trump’s brief Twitter statement said “hearts and prayers” are with the McCain family. First lady Melania Trump thanked McCain for his service to the nation, which included more than five years as a prisoner of war and six terms in the Senate.

Trump and McCain were at odds until the end. The president, who mocked McCain’s capture in Vietnam during the 2016 campaign, jabbed at the senator even after his illness for voting against Republican efforts to roll back President Barack Obama’s health care law. Earlier this summer, McCain issued a blistering statement criticizing Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Former presidents, including those who blocked McCain’s own White House ambitions, offered emotional tributes.

Obama, who triumphed over McCain in the 2008 election, said that despite their differences, McCain and he shared a “fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”

Obama said the two political opponents “saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world.”

Former President George W. Bush, who defeated McCain for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, called his one-time political rival “man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order” and a “friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

McCain was the son and grandson of admirals and followed them to the US Naval Academy. A pilot, he was shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. He went on to win a seat in the House and in 1986, the Senate, where he served for the rest of his life.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called McCain a “fascinating personality.”

“He would occasionally be in a bad place with various members, including myself, and when this would blow over it was like nothing ever happened,” McConnell said Saturday after a GOP state dinner in Lexington, Kentucky. “He also had a wicked sense of humor and it made every tense moment come out better.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who developed a friendship with McCain while they served together in the Senate, said the Arizona lawmaker will “cast a long shadow.”

“The spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves,” Biden said

McCain is expected to be remembered in Arizona and Washington before being buried, likely this week, at the Naval Academy Cemetery on a peninsula overlooking the Severn River.

Other plans were taking shape, too. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that he wants to name the Senate building that housed McCain’s suite of offices after the Arizona senator, who served as chairman of the Commerce Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. John McCain was one of them,” Schumer said. “Maybe most of all, he was a truth teller – never afraid to speak truth to power in an era where that has become all too rare.”

The Associated Press contributed to these reports.


Jon Stewart, NY Times, Natalie Portman and Bernie Sanders blacklisted by Heritage House for ‘crimes committed against the Jewish people’

August 14, 2018

NY Times, Natalie Portman and Bernie Sanders also blacklisted by Heritage House for ‘crimes committed against the Jewish people’

Jon Stewart on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Feb. 27, 2017. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Jon Stewart on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Feb. 27, 2017. (Screenshot from YouTube)

A hostel in Jerusalem’s Old City has published a list of “haters of Israel” who have been banned “because of crimes committed against the Jewish people,” drawing derision and ridicule from those blacklisted.

The Jerusalem Heritage House describes itself as an institution that provides “warm and comfortable accommodations for Jewish travelers in the heart of the Old City for a nominal fee.” It boasts of having hosted more than 60,000 guests since 1985.

Posted on Twitter by journalist Jacob Kornbluh, the list includes figures such as US comedian Jon Stewart, politician Bernie Sanders, former Obama administration ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, and actress Bette Midler. Also banned are members of the media including the staffs of The Times of Israel, Haaretz, CNN, and The New York Times, as well as the heads of the Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement.

Members of the Israeli press corps responded with sarcasm, with the Times of Israel’s Judah Ari Gross tweeting, “Shucks, no Jerusalem Heritage House for me,” and The Jerusalem Post’s Amy Spiro joking that “Bette Midler has been banging on the doors of the Jerusalem Heritage House for hours begging to be let inside.”

In response, Daniel Sugarman of the Jewish Chronicle tweeted at Spiro to be quiet, jokingly inquiring if she wanted “to get the Jerusalem Post on the list too.”

Finding that the outlet was listed above other organizations on the list, Times of Israel Deputy Editor Joshua Davidovich sarcastically tweeted, “We’re #8 Wooooh! Suck it, @haaretzcom and @ADL_National.”

Trump’s foreign policy is actually boosting America’s standing

August 12, 2018

A story is supposed to have  two sides, but there is only  one when it comes to President Trump’s foreign policy. Most American media treat his every effort as a savage assault on a harmonious world order.

Whether it’s the trade dispute with China, his pushing North Korea to scuttle its nukes or his demand that NATO members spend more on defense, the headlines sound the same shrieking note: “Trump inflames . . . Trump escalates . . . Trump doubles down . . . Trump risks . . .”

By Michael Goodwin

The parade of horribles continues to this day, but it will be hard to out-fear-monger a Time magazine headline from May: “By Violating Iran Deal, Trump Jeopardizes National Security.”

But since the world hasn’t ended and since we’re not dead yet, I humbly suggest it’s time to take a deep breath and consider the other side of the story.

We don’t have to look far. Numerous signs are popping up that the impact of Trump’s policies is far from the disastrous scenario the media predict. By wielding America’s power instead of apologizing for it, and by keeping his focus on jobs and national security, Trump is making progress in fixing the ruinous status quo he inherited.

America First, it turns out, is more than a slogan. It is a road map to reshaping America’s relationship with friend and foe alike.

Take China. Despite press accusations that Trump risks a global recession with tariffs on Chinese imports, recent reports from China say there is growing criticism there over how President Xi Jinping is handling Trump. One brave professor published an essay citing “rising anxiety” and “a degree of panic” about Xi’s combativeness on the issue and his autocratic ways.

Others told The New York Times and CNBC that China’s leaders should be flexible toward Trump’s push for a more equal trading system. They said boasts and threats from Chinese officials and retaliatory tariffs on American soybeans and other products are raising fears that Xi is courting chaos by overestimating China’s international clout.

“China should adopt a lower profile,” one foreign-policy expert there told the Times. “Don’t create this atmosphere that we’re about to supplant the American model.”

Turkey is testing Trump by seizing an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, and refusing to release him. Instead of paying a ransom or making concessions, Trump’s team levied sanctions on two Turkish cabinet members and doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum, which sent panic through currency markets. The Turkish lira lost 13 percent of its value against the dollar in one day and inflation stands at an ­estimated 85 percent.

The erratic Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has silenced nearly all opposition but revealed the pressure he’s feeling when he cryptically declared, “If they have their dollars, we have our people, our God.” He urged Turks to exchange gold and other valuables for the lira in hopes of stopping the rout. Good luck with that.

People walk in front of a currency exchange shop in the Iranian capital Tehran.
People walk in front of a currency exchange shop in the Iranian capital Tehran.AFP/Getty Images

Then there’s Iran. Notwithstanding Time magazine’s scare claim, Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord and last week’s imposition of sanctions aimed at the government and certain industries are adding to the economic pressure on the mullahs.

For months, demonstrations and strikes have focused on inflation, water shortages and rampant corruption, all amplified on social media. Some protesters criticize Iran’s involvement in Syria and its support of Hamas in Gaza while neglecting despair at home.

Even before the sanctions, the Iranian rial lost 80 percent of its value against the US dollar and Forbes estimates inflation exceeds 200 percent.

Trump tweeted that the sanctions, which had been lifted by President Barack Obama, are just the first step and that a bigger round starts in November. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” he wrote. “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

That was a reference to his ­offer to talk to Iran’s leaders about a new nuclear deal. So far, the Iranians have sent mixed signals, but some observers believe the bite of sanctions will force them to the table.

Already some European firms that rushed to do business in Iran after the nuclear deal was signed are pulling out because they fear being blacklisted by the US Treasury. And regime attempts to blame everything on Trump are failing, with most of the public blaming the mullahs for the crisis.

As The Atlantic magazine notes, Trump’s approach to Iran resembles his approach to North Korea: “Saber rattling followed by summitry.” The magazine reports that North Korea’s foreign minister visited Tehran last week.Donald Trump

The NATO spending issue is a classic example of media bias against Trump. When President Ronald Reagan was subjected to similar knee-jerk attacks over his foreign policies, the late great William Safire dubbed the critics “Blame America Firsters.”

Of course, Reagan’s policies are now widely regarded as transformative. Unfortunately for the modern Blame America Firsters, the NATO issue shows Trump’s forceful actions can bring results.

The fact that only a handful of the other 28 members meet the agreed goal of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense rankled former presidents but they could not move the needle. Europe loved Obama but ignored his polite request.

Then came Trump, and, instead of looking for love, he demanded money. His scorching criticism focused on the fact that NATO was designed to protect Europe from Russia, so it’s unfair for the US to pay the lion’s share of costs. Although Trump got his numbers wrong — NATO says the US pays 22 percent of all costs, not 90 percent — his point was correct.

Naturally, he made it theatrically and, naturally, most coverage suggested he was tearing the alliance apart by publicly airing dirty laundry, including his blast at Germany for spending billions to buy energy from Russia.

Busy attacking Trump, reporters ignored the fact that his criticism is bearing fruit.

The European Union agreed to buy more energy from America and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg credited Trump for pushing a “clear message” that members need to speed up defense hikes. He said Trump’s effort led to higher spending this year, though he did not confirm the president’s claim that the ­increase amounts to $33 billion.

At home, the president’s style spurs mass outbreaks of Trump Derangement Syndrome, but some foreign leaders appreciate his forceful clarity. An unidentified European Union ambassador told The Sun newspaper in London that Trump is “easier to negotiate with” than British Prime Minister Theresa May because Trump is focused on what he wants. May bungled Brexit negotiations by being ­unclear and indecisive, the official said, adding, “If this had been a rational discussion like we have with Trump on cars,” a deal might be finished.

Even relations with Mexico also look to be improving. The newly elected president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, thanked Trump for a “very respectful” congratulation message and said he wants to “reach an understanding” on NAFTA and other issues.

“We are conscious of the need to maintain good relations with the United States,” said López Obrador, whose populism and nationalism themes are compared to Trump’s.

More so than on any other topic, coverage of Israel reveals how the media either misread reality or simply distort it out of Trump hatred.

The president’s decision to right a historic wrong and recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital was met with such exaggerated predictions of calamity that it seemed as if Armageddon was at hand. I happened to be in Jerusalem on the December day of the announcement, and the minor Arab protests showed how ridiculous those predictions were.

In fact, many Arab leaders are tired of Palestinian rejectionism and some have serious military relationships with Israel focused on Iran and Islamic State. For that and other reasons, by the time the new embassy building opened in May, some media reports described it as a merely “symbolic” move.

How about that — from Armageddon to symbolism in five months! That’s rewriting history in warp speed.

Trump the president is still a work in progress, as illustrated most vividly by his evolving policies on Russia. His quick correction of his mistake at Helsinki over Russian election meddling and the imposition of sanctions last week over the use of a nerve agentagainst an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in London look as if he is coming to accept the consensus view that Russia is an adversary, not a friend.

Besides, as he is showing elsewhere, weakness does not improve relations. Strength does.

He saw that firsthand when the sanctions sent shocks through Moscow’s stock and currency markets Friday. Russian leaders reacted with fury, as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the sanctions and the threat of a second round “economic warfare.”We’ll see if the bluster is followed by action.

A final thought: Trump’s big initiatives are in the early stages and remain unfinished. His team is solid but small and they are juggling a lot of complex issues. Time, persistence and luck are needed for success.

Some foreign governments are waiting to see what happens in the midterm elections. While it waits, China is actively targeting red-state industries with tariffs in a clear attempt to punish Trump. If that isn’t election meddling, what is it?

If the GOP loses either house of Congress, Trump would be weakened for the final two years of his term. Foreign leaders would be tempted to hold out for better terms — or a new president.

But if the GOP holds control, the president would be strengthened and command even more attention on the world stage. Then our nation could reap the full bounty of benefits from putting America First.