Posts Tagged ‘Shin Bet’

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.

AFP

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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.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-voices-support-for-tripartite-confederation-with-israel-and-jordan/

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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

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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.

Palestinian flags at Israel nation-state law protest — Plot to kill Hamas leaders?

August 12, 2018

The appearance of Palestinian flags at a protest against the nation-state law has those on the right crowing and those in the center shaking their heads

August 12, 2018
Israeli Arabs and Jews protest against the nation-state law' in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israeli Arabs and Jews protest against the nation-state law’ in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

1.Anti-flag: Israelis on the left and right saw the same protest at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square against the nation-state law Saturday night, but are drawing very different conclusions.

  • On the right, the appearance of Palestinian flags at the rally proves their point about the need for legislation enshrining the country’s Jewish character, including it’s Star of David flag, in law.
  • “Wrong flag,” reads a headline in Israel Hayom.
  • “With a protest like this, who needs to explain the law,” writes Zvi Hauser, a former aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the same paper, reflecting the view of many in the government (including the prime minister) who spoke out against the flags as exposing the real face of opposition to the law.
  • The nationalist Israel National News website leads its news section with the headline “PLO flags in the heart of Tel Aviv,” and the fact that it doesn’t even mention the flags in the story reflects how it takes for granted that its readers will gather all they need from just those few words.

2. Flag-flogged: And it was not even just the hard right incensed by the flags’ appearance. The populist Yedioth Ahronoth tabloid cover features a picture of a flag and the headline “Palestinians flags in the heart of Tel Aviv,” and the Walla website also notes them in its top headline.

  • Yedioth notes that while there were some Israeli flags, they were outstripped by the number of Palestinian ones. “This is my flag … I have no connection to the Israeli flag,” one protester is quoted saying.
  • The protest also says that some at the protest chanted “with blood and fire we will redeem Palestine.”
  • Mohammed Barakeh, among the organizers of the protest, told ToI’s Adam Rasgon that protesters had been asked not to bring the flags, but had not listened.
  • What results is a tongue-lashing from critics of the law who now feel their protest has been tarred by the Palestinian national symbols.
  • “Organizers made a big mistake by allowing the flags,” former prime minister Ehud Barak wrote on Twitter. He called the flags and chants a “free service” for those backing the nation-state law.
  • “They shot themselves in the flag,” Yoaz Hendel, another former Netanyahu aide, quips in Yedioth. “Those waving Palestinian flags … are not demanding equality or coexistence, but the erasure of the Jewish right of self determination in the state of Israel,” he writes.

3. Identity crisis: What these analyses are missing is the nuance needed to understand the place of the Palestinian flag and other Palestinian national symbols among Israel’s Arabs, many of whom self-identify as Palestinians, even if they are not necessarily Palestinian nationalists.

  • As a Kafr Qassem teacher told the Christian Science Monitor in 2016, “We don’t have an identity. We are the real refugees. We have a conflict between the national side and civilian side.”
  • A reflection of this unease is the lack of outcry over a protest against the law last week that saw just as many, if not more Druze flags, since Israelis don’t fear any national aspirations by the Druze. Palestinian flags, on the other hand, are viewed with deep distrust because there is a Palestinian movement, thus the reduction of the waving of a flag to a desire to subsume Israel.

4Who’s afraid of the Arabs: “The law sparked an unprecedented mass demonstration of Israeli Arabs in the heart of Tel Aviv, known as the first Hebrew city, but it also exposed the lingering duality of the Palestinian community, as it defines itself. Their show of force also demonstrated their isolation,” Chemi Shalev writes in Haaretz.

  • Shalev notes the fact that mainstream Israelis showed up to the Druze protest but shunned this one shows how they are viewed within Israeli society.
  • Addressing those like Labor head Avi Gabbay who refused to show up because of Palestinian national symbols, Meretz head Tamar Zandberg wrote on Facebook: “So there will be a flag or sign you don’t agree with. So fucking what.”
  • One person who was not afraid was Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken, who spoke at the rally, and whose broadsheet, the flagship paper of the Israeli left, reflects his view of the importance of the Arab-led rally.
  • The paper’s lead editorial chastises Gabbay and other members of Zionist Union for failing to show up, saying they earned a “badge of shame.”
  • “Those who rightly demonstrated against the law together with the Druze in that same square just a week earlier, yet decided to boycott a similar demonstration organized by the Arab community’s Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, missed an important opportunity to expand the protest. No excuse can obscure this,” the editorial reads.

5Swimming with sharks: The weekend saw mostly quiet on the Gaza border for a change, though Friday did see some protests and a massive fire kite managed to get tangled in the power lines of a kibbutz.

  • A picture of kids playing in a pool is used in Yedioth to represent the weekend of calm after a tense couple of days (though some may find the picture insensitive given the dire humanitarian situation and lack of clean drinking water just across the border.)
  • The calm is the fruits of Israel’s decision to reach yet another ceasefire with Hamas, despite loud protests from politicians and those on the right who see Israel as weak.
  • “Nothing has actually changed. Short of some sharp turn, which does not seem to be on the horizon, the shooting will return soon, and with it the chances for a wide operation,” writes Yoav Limor in Israel Hayom.
  • However, in Yedioth, Shimrit Meir, editor of the Arab-language al-Masdar, praises Netanyahu (a rare feat for that paper) for restraining himself rather than going to war: “One assumes we’ll have a traditional round of fighting for a few days or weeks and find ourselves picking up the phone for the Egyptian or Qatari mediator to scribble out a ceasefire. So why not just skip the days in the bomb shelters and billions spent on fighting and go straight to a long-term deal with Hamas?”

6Kill ’em all: In what may be a planned leak meant as a scare tactic to push Hamas to the table, or an actual leak of battle plans, Haaretz reports that Israel has put together a plot to assassinate Hamas’s leaders.

  • The paper writes that the army and Shin Bet see killing the top of the terror group as preferable to launching an all out-war, but notes that doing so could end up launching another round of fighting in any case, which is the understatement of the century.

7Cold Turkey: Though it has no horse in the race, Israel’s press is taking an interest in the Turkey-US spat.

  • Israel Hayom calls the words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “empty threats” precipitated by the crash of the lira.
  • In Yedioth, Nadav Eyal calls Erdogan’s decision to threaten US President Donald Trump that he’ll start looking for new allies “the worst thing he could have done.”
  • “Those around Erdogan are trying to explain to him the terrible situation Turkey is in, and what unpopular steps he needs to take,” he writes.
  • Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el, meanwhile, doesn’t see much smart policy or strategy from either leader: “The fraught relations may resemble a chess game, but the two primary players, Trump and Erdogan, don’t have the patience or the temperament required of chess players. At the same time, they still have critical shared interests that could force a reconciliation.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/flagging-support-7-things-to-know-for-august-12/

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Netanyahu cheers Israel’s Jewish state law as a ‘pivotal moment’ in Zionist history

July 19, 2018

Opposition lawmakers blast contentious legislation passed overnight, say it is designed to divide Israeli society

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Reactions to the Knesset’s passage overnight Wednesday of the new Jewish State law were predictably divided along party lines, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailing it as “a pivotal moment in the annals of Zionism and the State of Israel.”

Lawmakers approved the law, which enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, in its second and third readings, with 62 voting in favor, 55 opposed and two abstaining, after hours of heated debate in the Knesset chamber.

While the coalition feted the passage of the law, members of the opposition decried it as nationalistic, divisive and a threat to democracy.

“We enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence,” said Netanyahu. “Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, that respects the individual rights of all its citizens. This is our state — the Jewish state. In recent years there have been some who have attempted to put this in doubt, to undercut the core of our being. Today we made it law: This is our nation, language and flag.”

The law’s main proponent over the past few years, former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter, said it was a response to anyone in Israel who believes Jewish presence is a temporary affair — referencing Arab MK Jamal Zahalka’s past claim that Arabs will outlast Jews in the country.

Likud MK Avi Dichter, sponsor of the Jewish state bill, speaks during the Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on it, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“All you can be is an equal minority, not an equal nationality,” Dichter said.

He asserted, “Contrary to the disinformation and fake news that have flooded [the conversation], the Basic Law does not hurt Israel’s minority cultures.” He also claimed it does not detract from the status of the Arabic language.

One clause in the law downgrades Arabic from an official language to one of “special” standing, though it also says that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”

Read the full text of the law here.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein was also celebratory, saying “history” was made in the plenum, and calling the new legislation “one of the most important laws ever to be passed by the Knesset.”

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin condemned the opposition to the law by the Zionist Union faction, and particularly the Labor party, its chief component. “Tell us honestly, Labor members: Do you contest the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel? Is it not our nation state? Is its flag not acceptable to you? There has never been such a rejection by the Labor movement of Zionist values.”

Critics have said that the law is discriminatory to Israel’s Arab and other minority populations. and needlessly provokes those minorities by underlining a preferential attitude toward Judaism.

Zionist Union’s Shelly Yachimovich said, “Nobody believes it is nationality and the State of Israel that [the coalition is] interested in,” adding that the law encourages a “debased” form of nationalism “that hates the other.”

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich attends a faction meeting in the Knesset on February 6, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MK Tzipi Livni said the law in its current form prioritizes politics over substance. “When I asked coalition MKs why they weren’t bringing forth a version of the law that a hundred MKs could unite around, they smiles at me cynically and said Netanyahu wants the law to create strife. ‘Otherwise how will people know he’s more patriotic than you? What will we get out of you supporting it?’ That’s the method.”

Outgoing opposition chief Isaac Herzog, the new head of the Jewish Agency, was more ambivalent, but expressed concern.

“The question is whether the law will hurt or strengthen Israel,” he said. “History will be the judge. I very much hope the delicate balance between [Israel’s] Jewish and democratic aspects will not be upset.”

In the opposition Yesh Atid party, MK Elazar Stern said the law was an insult “to our Druze and Bedouin brothers who serve with us in the IDF and in the security services.”

A lone voice of dissent in Likud, MK Benny Begin said the legislation was not what he expected from his party, and warned that it could increase societal tensions and boost extreme nationalism.

Meretz party head Tamar Zandberg, too, lamented the “shameful night” and “debased and tainted law.”

The most withering criticism came from the Joint (Arab) List, which called the law “anti-democratic, colonialist, racist and with clear characteristics of apartheid.”

“The law has no mention of the word democracy or the word equality, and is wholly committed to brutish emphasis of ethnic supremacy, leaving no doubt that there are two types of citizenship — first-rate ones for Jews and second-rate ones for Arabs,” it said.

Joint List head Ayman Odeh said in a statement that Israel “has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that [minorities] will always be second-class citizens… Netanyahu’s regime is digging a deep pit of fear, racism, and authoritarianism to divide us from each other. ”

He added, “We will not allow the majority to humiliate and destroy us,” and vowed to fight for “a future for all of us with democracy, equality, and justice.”

The law also declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, sets the Hebrew calendar as the official calendar of the state, and recognizes Independence Day, days of remembrance and Jewish holidays.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the Jewish state law, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

On Sunday, Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett reached an agreement to cut a controversial clause that would have allowed the state to “authorize a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community,” and replace it with a new clause celebrating “Jewish settlement” in Israel in general terms.

Lawmakers amended the bill accordingly just hours before the final authorization, removing the clause sanctioning housing discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or religion.

Some of the last-minute changes to the bill came after politicians, legal advisers and others warned that several of its clauses were discriminatory and could cast a dark shadow over Israel in the international arena.

Judaism is already mentioned throughout the country’s laws, and religious authorities control many aspects of life, including marriage. But the 11 existing Basic Laws deal mostly with state institutions like the Knesset, the courts, and the presidency, while Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty defines Israel’s democratic character.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

Times of Israel

https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-hails-jewish-state-law-as-a-pivotal-moment-in-zionist-history/

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Israel: Shin Bet says it thwarted plot to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

June 5, 2018

East Jerusalem man, 2 accomplices arrested for allegedly planning ‘significant terror attacks’ on behalf of Syria-based group

Illustrative. Handcuffs in a courthouse. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Illustrative. Handcuffs in a courthouse. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Israeli forces arrested an East Jerusalem man suspected of planning to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat earlier this year, on orders from a Syria-based terrorist group, the Shin Bet security service revealed on Tuesday.

The main suspect, 30-year-old Arab Israeli Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh, was arrested on April 24. Two more suspects were arrested in the following weeks, the Shin Bet said. The security service refused to identify the two suspected accomplices.

Indictments were filed against the three on May 27, but the case was kept under a court-issued gag order until Tuesday.

“Working on orders from terrorist operatives abroad, Muhammad planned to carry out a number of significant terror attacks against a variety of targets,” the security service said.

The targets included Netanyahu and Barkat, as well as buildings belonging to the US consulate in Jerusalem (which has since been converted into an embassy) and a delegation of Canadian security officials who were in Jerusalem to train Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

A spokesperson for the security service said Rashdeh received his orders from members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, a Syria-based terrorist group that fights alongside Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

In order to carry out the attacks, Rashdeh and his accomplices planned to bring in an additional terrorist operative from Jordan, the Shin Bet said.

According to the security service, Rashdeh had already begun collecting intelligence about his targets.

“The arrest of the suspects thwarted significant terror attacks, which the cell had been requested to advance,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

According to the Shin Bet, Rashdeh was a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem and had previously been incarcerated for “terrorist activities.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/shin-bet-says-it-thwarted-plot-to-assassinate-prime-minister-jerusalem-mayor/

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Iran is funding Hamas’s violent campaign at Gaza border, Shin Bet says

May 14, 2018

Captured terror operatives tell Israeli security service they keep away from border, encourage youths to riot and sabotage fence as cover for attacks by terror group

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A Palestinian boy protester runs carrying a tire towards a fire during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Gaza City on May 4, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

A Palestinian boy protester runs carrying a tire towards a fire during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Gaza City on May 4, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Iran is funding Hamas’s campaign to promote violence and attacks against Israel under the cover of mass demonstrations at the border, the Shin Bet security service said on Monday.

Hamas has warned its members to stay away from the security fence during Gaza’s mass protests, lest they get shot, while actively encouraging Palestinian civilians — particularly children and teens — to approach the border, the Shin Bet added, citing findings from a number of interrogations.

“There is a prohibition for Hamas operatives to approach the border, from a fear that they will be killed or captured by IDF troops, unless the security fence falls and then they must enter, armed, into Israel under the cover of the masses and carry out terror attacks,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Over the course of the past seven weeks of violent demonstrations along the Gaza border, in an event known collectively as the “March of Return,” Israeli forces have arrested a number of Palestinians, some of them Hamas members, who crossed the security fence into Israeli territory.

Ahead of mass riots expected on Monday, the Shin Bet released the findings of its interrogations of those suspects, which the security service said showed the methods used by Hamas to destabilize the border area, breach the fence and try to carry out terror attacks inside Israeli territory.

“From the information we have, it appears Hamas is encouraging and sending protesters to the border fence in order to carry out violent acts and damage security infrastructure. In addition, it was found that Iran is providing funding to Hamas in order for it to carry out these violent activities along the Gaza Strip’s border fence,” the Shin Bet said.

Palestinian demonstrators burn tires near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on May 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The security service did not provide specific evidence of Iranian involvement. However, Hamas has maintained relations with the Islamic Republic and reportedly drawn significant funding from Tehran.

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces expects upwards of 100,000 Palestinians to take part in violent protests along the Gaza border. These riots were expected on Tuesday, the Palestinian Nakba Day, which commemorates Palestinians’ displacement from their homes following the creation of the State of Israel. But on Sunday the military assessed that Hamas would look to capitalize on the media attention around the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and move its plans up a day.

The IDF is particularly concerned that the demonstrations will see mass border breaches, in which Palestinians, including Hamas members, would stream across the border and wreak havoc in nearby Israeli communities — attacking residents, setting fires and destroying property.

“The IDF and the Shin Bet security service will continue with determination to prevent any infiltration attempts into the State of Israel in order to defend Israel’s citizens and sovereignty,” the Shin Bet said on Monday.

Earlier on Monday, the IDF dropped thousands of leaflets into the Gaza Strip, telling residents not to be Hamas’s “puppets” and to keep away from the border.

The testimonies

Yahya Ijlah, a 19-year-old Hamas member who entered Israel on April 29, told Shin Bet interrogators that he had been sent to the border in order to steal a security camera along the fence.

Captured Hamas operative Yahya Ijlah (Shin Bet)

According to the Shin Bet, Ijlah said Hamas “is working to make its activities look like a popular uprising in the media, and not a violent operation by its members.”

The security service said that a number of suspects told interrogators that Hamas was specifically encouraging teenagers and children to approach and even breach the fence.

“The testimony showed a cynical use of children and innocent civilians by Hamas, while endangering their lives, in order to vandalize and steal equipment,” the Shin Bet said.

Salim Abu-Daher, 21, who was arrested after breaching the fence on April 28, told the Shin Bet that Hamas operatives wear normal street clothes and blend themselves into the masses of civilian protesters, while armed with “bottles of butane, knives and wire cutters,” the Shin Bet said.

Captured Hamas operative Salim Abu-Daher (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet said that Ijlah revealed that during protests Hamas members are meant to act as instigators but not take action themselves.

“The role of Hamas members is to provide Gaza Strip residents with tires and help set them on fire. This is in order to create a thick smokescreen and to rile the Gaza residents, in order to convince them to infiltrate into Israeli territory,” the service said.

Hamas operatives also “help throw firebombs and prepare incendiary kites,” according to the Shin Bet.

These so-called “attack kites” or “terror kites” have proven a challenge to Israeli forces and have destroyed hundreds of dunams of farmland.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-funding-hamas-efforts-to-foment-border-violence-shin-bet-says/

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Israel arrests Hamas agents for smuggling cash into the West Bank for terror activity, support suicide attacks

May 3, 2018

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Thursday announced the arrest of two Hamas activists in the West Bank on suspicion of receiving thousands of Euros of funding for the terrorist organization.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 MAY 3, 2018 12:43

 950 Hezbollah operatives, 300 Hamas members in Germany – intelligence report

 Three Hamas men from Jerusalem indicted for planning shooting attack

Bir Zeit

Palestinian students supporting Hamas stand next to mock Hamas rockets during a rally celebrating their winning of the student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 23, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Thursday announced the arrest of two Hamas activists in the West Bank on suspicion of receiving thousands of Euros of funding for the terrorist organization.

According to a statement by the security agency, 24-year-old Hamas operative Omar Kiswani from the West Bank village of Beit Iksa was arrested in a joint undercover operation by the Shin Bet, the Israel Police and the IDF on March 7, and brought in for questioning by security authorities.

Kiswani’s arrest was caught on camera and widely shared on social networks. The video showed men in civilian clothes carrying pistols wrestling Kiswani to the ground, one kicking him as he was on the ground. The men are also seen pointing their pistols toward onlookers and shots are heard towards the end of the clip.

The Shin Bet investigation showed that Kiswani made contact with Hamas activist Yassin Rabi’a, who had been expelled to the Gaza Strip as part of the Schalit deal, as well as with Hamas operatives in Turkey in order to ask for funds to promote Hamas activity at Birzeit University.

Yassin transferred a total sum of €150,000, which had been hidden in a number of locations throughout the West Bank, to Kiswani, who collected the money along with his friend and fellow Hamas activist, 20-year-old Yahya Alawi.

The two are suspected of using the funds to promote Hamas activity. The investigation by the Shin Bet security agency found a “deep involvement of Hamas operatives in Turkey and the Gaza Strip” who were working on attempts to promote Hamas activity in the West Bank.

“This is another expression of the efforts of the Hamas headquarters in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to accelerate activity in the West Bank. They launder funds and hide them in many locations throughout the West Bank,” read the statement, adding that the exposure and arrest of the two men who studied at Birzeit University “once again points to the great importance that the Hamas headquarters attaches to student activity. Actions within the university’s walls serve as a main tool for recruiting and training Hamas operatives in the West Bank.”

In 2017, a Hamas cell, led by members located in the Gaza Strip, recruited students at Birzeit university to carry out suicide attacks.

Following Kiswani’s arrest, Birzeit Univesity released a statement saying that the arrest was a violation of international humanitarian law.

“This is not the first violent intrusion by Israeli army forces, who systematically invade the university’s campus – even though it is specifically protected under international humanitarian law,” it said.

“The kidnappers, carrying firearms in their backpacks, entered the campus during working hours and attacked the student in front of the Student Council Building, located at the center of the campus. The operatives forced and pinned the student to the ground while firing their weapons, endangering lives.”

https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-arrests-Hamas-agents-smuggling-cash-for-university-terror-activity-553379

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Employee at French Consulate in Jerusalem Admits to Smuggling Weapons From Gaza to West Bank

March 19, 2018

Haaretz

Case was reported on extensively in French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel – even though relevant agencies had already worked on press releases

A 24-year-old employee at the French Consulate in Jerusalem admitted that he smuggled dozens of weapons from the Gaza Strip into the West Bank through diplomatic vehicles, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Sunday. Israeli security sources have confirmed the existence of the case.

The employee was a driver and carried an official passport. He was detained for questioning by Israeli security authorities on February 19. A security guard at the embassy was also arrested. The two will stand trial on Monday, most likely in a Be’er Sheva court, for smuggling weapons from Gaza to the West Bank.

 French Consulate in Jerusalem

The case was reported on extensively on Sunday in the French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel, even though the relevant agencies in Israel, including the Shin Bet security service and the Foreign Ministry, had already worked on a press release on matter.

This is not the first time that a security-related case has been banned from publication while it was reported on extensively abroad.

One high-profile example was the case of a man identified as Prisoner X on an Australian website, which was only reported later in Israel following the lifting of the gag order.

The French Embassy issued a statement saying: “The authorities in France are taking the incident in which one if the workers at the consulate general of France in Jerusalem is a suspect with very great seriousness. The authorities in France are cooperating with Israeli authorities.”

Israeli diplomatic officials called the matter “a very difficult event, which we take very seriously.” They added that relations with France are excellent and this will not have an adverse effect, thanking French authorities for their cooperation.

The affair takes place days before French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is slated to arrive in Israel, amid the backdrop of a potential visit from French President Emmanuel Macron later this fall. This affair may overshadow the visit.

Israel arrests Palestinians ‘planning attack on defence minister’

February 18, 2018

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File | Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman is seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 21, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel arrested six Palestinians suspected of planning attacks targeting Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other Israelis in the occupied West Bank, security agency Shin Bet said Sunday.Shin Bet said the six were affiliated with the Islamic Jihad militant group and were active in the Bethlehem area where they sought to carry out shootings against Israeli civilians and security forces.

In addition, some of the group had been planning to target Lieberman’s vehicle when he travelled to his home in a West Bank settlement.

According to a Shin Bet statement, the suspects had been “trying to obtain explosives to make a bomb, and even reached out to terror elements in (Gaza) for funding.”

“Upon failing to acquire the materials, they decided to create a fake device to receive recognition for their action and enable further attacks,” the statement read.

The six will be charged in an Israeli military court later Sunday.

In 2014, Shin Bet said it had apprehended a Hamas group planning to assassinate then-foreign minister Lieberman by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at his convoy.