Friday, May 12, 2017

Trump - Is A Prospective Palestinian Peace Deal Realistic and Enforceable?

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Thomas Sowell just retired from The Hoover Institution due to age.

Educated at Harvard, Columbia and Chicago University. Sowell is an economist who taught at Cornell, Brandeis, The Urban Institution, UCLA and ended his distinguished career at The Hoover Institution at Stanford. He is also a Marine.
In this memo I want to focus on my thoughts about Trump, Abbas and Netanyahu as it pertains to Trump's effort to arrange a peace agreement between the PLO and Israel that could actually occur.

Apparently, Ronald Lauder (Lauder Cosmetics) and Abbas met prior to when the latter came to meet Trump and Lauder, a long time friend of President Trump, explained to Abbas what he must do to win Trump's favor and Abbas, allegedly, has begun a charm campaign.

My concern is that Trump, out of a true desire to bring peace, could fall into the same trap Rabin did when it came to "OSLO" and press Netanyahu to buy into Abbas' transformation.

Even if Abbas is sincere, and I have strong contrary suspicions, he cannot deliver anything dependable without Hamas and Hezbollah concurring and abiding to the terms of a possible agreement.

Trump is a deal maker and he would certainly deserve and would have earned the right to a Nobel Peace Prize were he able to preside over a true, fair and enforceable agreement.

I simply do not believe one is achievable on terms that are both acceptable and, more importantly, enforceable and, like Obama did with Iran, I also am concerned Trump already has dangled a bunch of " encouragement and enticing goodies" in front of Abbas.  Perhaps they are not equal in amount to the "$150 billion ransom" Obama gave to Iran but, nevertheless, a healthy dose of tax payer

I have always written that the best way to get the PLO, and whomever is leading it at the time, to agree to a deal that is acceptable and enforceable is to base it on reality and facts not myths and concessions.The PLO's corrupt leadership has done little to earn the concessions that have constantly been extracted from Israel. When Israel agreed to OSLO they immediately had to deal with Arafat's Intifada.  When Sharon returned Gaza, Hamas launched missiles.

As for Netanyahu he has strong convictions but, I fear, if Trump dangles a peace deal in front of Bibi and one in which Abbas has uttered the magic words that have always been missing the pressure to cave will escalate and his ability to resist will be virtually impossible.

For those who have never been to Israel it is a tiny nation (the size of Rhode Island)  with a very narrow waist and therefore, very difficult to defend.  It is also surrounded by those committed to its complete annihilation. For someone living in America what Israel is faced with is inconceivable.

I do not question Trump's sincere desire to rebuild America's relationship with Israel but sometimes decent efforts and good intentions of friends can prove dangerous.  In a few weeks Trump will be meeting with Turkey's . Obama regrettably called him and thought him to be his best friend.

I am posting  series of pertinent articles - you decide. (See 1, 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e,1f, 1g, 1h and 1i)
We are leaving again next Saturday and I am catching up from being away so memos will be sparse for a while.
1)Jewish Trump confidant: US president has convinced Abbas to make concessions
Behind the scenes at the conference, WJC president Ron Lauder briefed ministers Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Ofir Akunis. US President Donald Trump has succeeded in persuading Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to make the kind of concessions that will enable the diplomatic process to move forward, World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder told Israeli politicians at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York.

Lauder is the Jewish leader closest to Trump: their families have been friends for decades; he has free access to the president; and he has advised him on how to advance diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East. He also has built up ties with Arab leaders for decades and was Netanyahu’s unofficial envoy to Syria in the latter’s first term as prime minister.

Behind the scenes at the conference, Lauder briefed ministers Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Ofir Akunis, as well as opposition leader Isaac Herzog on his impressions from talking to Trump about how to solve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

“Trump is very optimistic that he can renew the peace process,” one of the politicians told The Jerusalem Post after speaking to Lauder. “Lauder understands from Trump that he believes Abbas can be convinced by him and Arab leaders to come back to the table and make concessions.”

Lauder served as president of the conference.

Bennett, Shaked and Akunis, in their speeches at the conference, emphasized their opposition to a Palestinian state and continually denigrated the Palestinian Authority and Abbas.

Ahead of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority later this month, Trump will make his first foreign stop as president in Saudi Arabia. The visit is intended to show that Trump respects the Muslim world and to seek Saudi help in advancing a regional approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump hosted Abbas at the White House last week and has met recently with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan. The politicians who spoke with Lauder said Trump was counting on the Arab leaders to add to his own pressure on Abbas to concede.

Herzog revealed at the conference that he had offered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a parliamentary safety net for concessions in a peace process led by Trump.

Interviewed on stage by Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz, Herzog praised Trump while questioning Netanyahu’s goals on the Palestinian issue.

“So far, Trump’s peace efforts have been impeccable,” Herzog said. “We know what Trump wants. What Netanyahu wants, no one knows. I have grave doubts about Bibi’s intentions.

If he wants peace, he will enjoy political support even from my camp. But if he opts for what Bibi usually wants, he will find us a fierce opposition and we will replace him as soon as possible.”

Herzog said the only way to bring about a change in power in Israel is to form a strong centrist bloc with other centrist movements. He invited former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon to join such a bloc, along with fellow former IDF chiefs Ehud Barak, Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi; rebel Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abecassis; and MKs in Kulanu.

“Together, we can present a clear, centrist vision for Israel,” Herzog said.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said she disagrees with Herzog, calling Ya’alon too right-wing to lead a centrist bloc of parties that would challenge Netanyahu.
Dershowitz on Trump and peace: Real opportunities vs double-edged sword
“Unpredictability is a double-edged sword. It could drive people together, but it also produces uncertainty, so it could make it more difficult to come to a resolution.” Although US President Donald Trump presents “real opportunities” his “unpredictability is a double-edged sword,” famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz told the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday.

On the positive side, Dershowitz argued that “there are real opportunities with this new administration to do something constructive in the Middle East. When the US has Israel’s back and Israel feels strong, it is willing to make compromises and concessions.”

On the negative side, he exclaimed seemingly aghast, “President Trump is utterly unpredictable. We don’t know what he will do next. We don’t know what surprises” are next and “we didn’t know what he would do with” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Unpredictability is a double-edged sword. It could drive people together, but it also produces uncertainty, so it could make it more difficult to come to a resolution,” he continued.

Overall, he suggested that Trump’s real Middle East policies will become more clear in the near future as he visits in the region in late May.

Another major message Dershowitz had was a surprisingly strong condemnation of various groups on the American political Left, despite his is affiliation as a lifelong-Democrat.

He said that US “progressive have abandoned” Israel and that such “progressives are repressive…want to bar pro-Israel speakers and…are intolerant.”

Further, he called on American-Jews to “marginalize progressives within the mainstream Democratic party,” saying that he will fight bigotry on both the American political Left and Right.

The renowned lawyer also advocated maintaining Israel as a bipartisan issue in the US, and it appeared his anger was directed at groups on the Right and Left which he believed were trying to break-up the bipartisan stance on Israel.


Abbas has decided to sign peace deal with Israel

By Yaakov Katz

Since then, Abbas has crossed the Rubicon and voiced “unprecedented” readiness to reach a peace deal with Israel, sources close to the efforts to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians have told The Jerusalem Post.

Abbas, according to the sources, made this clear to President Donald Trump during their meeting at the White House last week. The president plans to use his trip to Israel later this month to receive assurances from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he, too, is committed to a peace agreement.

Since his meeting with Trump last week, Abbas has changed his rhetoric, issuing a number of statements meant to reflect flexibility on previous demands. He has, for example, said that he would renew the talks under Trump’s auspices without preconditions. In the past, he had said he would not negotiate with Netanyahu without a freeze to settlement construction.
He has also sent his advisers to the press to declare that the Palestinians are prepared to negotiate land swaps with Israel, a recognition that some West Bank settlements will remain part of Israel in the framework of a future deal.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, has largely remained quiet. The strategy within the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem seems to be to wait and hope not to be blamed for preventing the success of the peace talks Trump is planning to restart following his visit on May 22.
As reported earlier this week in Maariv and the Post, the person responsible for this change in Abbas is Ronald Lauder, the American billionaire and head of the World Jewish Congress, who is one of the closest people to Trump. Lauder has publicly said that he has known Trump for over 50 years and that he is a “great and true friend” of Israel.
Before Abbas met with Trump last week, he stopped by Lauder’s house for dinner and got briefed on ways to win over the president. To some, it seems that Lauder has bypassed Sheldon Adelson as the most influential Jew in Trump’s circle.
Lauder has been pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal for years and was in Cairo two months ago for a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ahead of the Egyptian leader’s visit to the White House. Lauder, sources say, seems to have been tapped by the president as something of a semi-official envoy to the region with an emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Politicians who spoke to Lauder at Sunday’s Jerusalem Post Conference in New York later told the Post that he told them about his meeting with Abbas. At the same time, Netanyahu told confidants that he was furious over the American Jewish leader’s involvement.
“You don’t understand how much influence he has over Trump,” the prime minister told a confidant in a private conversation this week.
“Out of the people around Trump, he is my biggest challenge to overcome.”

1b)  Palestinians: Abbas's "Culture of Peace"
  • Thanks to Abbas's falsehoods, his media continues to this day dishonestly to talk about "Jewish invaders and settlers storming" Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. This and this alone is the source of the knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.
  • Perhaps by a "culture of peace" Abbas means calling -- as he and his top officials regularly do -- Israel an apartheid and racist state. Or maybe "culture of peace" means calling all Jews "occupiers" and "colonists" -- or denouncing and threatening Palestinian children who play soccer with Israeli kids. Or naming schools and electoral lists after convicted murderers?
  • Under Abbas, anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination is a business that has expanded exponentially. It has, in fact, grown to the point that a new generation has been raised on the glorification of jihadists -- a generation impatient to draw yet more Jewish blood. If this is Abbas's "culture of peace," one has to wonder what he would consider a culture of war?
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas may soon be known for his sense of humor. Like many Palestinians, Abbas believes that Westerners will swallow his lies wholesale. Abbas, for instance, ended his May 3 meeting with US President Donald Trump with the following whopper: "We are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace."

Abbas did not provide further details about the "culture of peace" upon which Palestinian children are being raised. Nor did anyone bother to ask Abbas or any member of his entourage to provide examples of the "culture of peace" in Palestinian society. Yet major Western media outlets were quick to publish Abbas's unmistakable lie.

Apparently, like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Abbas is convinced that Palestinians can fool "all of the people, all of the time" about their true goals and intentions. Arafat lied to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton when he told them that he and the Palestinian Authority were promoting peace and coexistence with Israel. Under Arafat, anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media, schools and mosques intensified until Palestinians waged the Second Intifada in September 2000. This intifada was the result of seven years of vicious incitement and indoctrination that came after the inception of the PA. In a truly ironic turn of events, the Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993, gave the Palestinians media outlets, including television and radio stations, which were then used to amplify hatred against Israel and Jews on a daily basis.
Arafat used these media outlets to tell his people -- when then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in September 2000 -- that Israel was planning to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque. It was precisely this incitement that triggered the Second Intifada, in which Palestinians wage a massive and ruthless campaign of suicide bombings and drive-by shootings that caused the death of hundreds of Israelis.

Under Arafat, it was anything but a "culture of peace." His message to the Palestinians was: "We will march towards Jerusalem and we will sacrifice millions of martyrs on the way!"

Unlike many Israelis who were murdered by Palestinians at Arafat's incitement, Arafat's famous battle cry is still alive and well. Currently, it is being echoed by many Palestinians, including children, during rallies and demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This call-to-arms openly encourages Palestinian youths to "march towards Jerusalem" and become "martyrs."

Only one week before the Abbas's meeting with Trump, the PA president's Fatah faction called on Palestinians to take to the streets and clash with Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers. The call was made in "solidarity" with Palestinian prisoners who went on a "hunger strike" in Israeli prisons. The hunger strike was not about Israel's prisons, well-known for being among the most comfortable in the world; the hunger strike was actually a political move to compete for which terrorist would be Abbas's successor. The prisoners are terrorists, most of them with blood on their hands; the more blood, the higher the promotion.

In the fight for Palestinian leadership, being a "graduate" of an Israeli prison is far more important than being a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. The Palestinians' former prime minister, Salam Fayyad. Fayyad, an economist and reformer adored in the West, received only 2% of the Palestinian vote.

By calling for clashes with Israelis, Fatah is inciting Palestinian youths to carry out violent attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers. This is the same Fatah led by Abbas -- the same Abbas mouthing lies about a "culture of peace." By voicing solidarity with convicted murderers and praising them as role models and heroes of Palestinians, Abbas's Fatah pushes Palestinian youths to follow in their footsteps and engage in violence.

One day after the Abbas-Trump meeting, the current Palestinian Authority prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, participated in a rally in Ramallah, in solidarity with the hunger-striking terrorists. At the rally, Hamdallah affirmed the PA's full support for the terrorists, by saying he was working to bring their case to the attention of the international community.

Like Arafat, Abbas continues to use alleged but non-existent threats the al-Aqsa Mosque to incite Palestinian youths against Israel. For the past 50 years, non-Muslims, including Jews, have been permitted to visit the Temple Mount as tourists. The visits were suspended when the Second Intifada began in 2000. But since the tourist visits resumed a few years ago, the Muslims have been trying to keep Jews away from the holy site. The Muslims claim that Jews are seeking to "destroy" and "desecrate" the al-Aqsa Mosque (on the Temple Mount) -- a false claim that is added to the long list of lies and blood libels spread by Abbas and many Muslims. Abbas's statement came in response not to any incidents at al-Aqsa Mosque, as Abbas and other Palestinians claimed: Tours of Jews to the Temple Mount are routine and peaceful.

In September 2015, Abbas stated that he "welcomed every drop of blood that is spilled in Jerusalem."
Shortly after this statement, Palestinians began waging a campaign of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis, in a violent insurgency known as the "Knife Intifada". "We will protect Jerusalem and we will not allow them [Jews] to defile al-Aqsa (Mosque) and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with their filthy feet," Abbas deceitfully announced.

It is still unclear why he decided to bring the church into the controversy surrounding Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. What is clear is that Abbas was lying: Jews had not entered either the church or al-Aqsa Mosque.

Ever since Abbas's inciting statement, however, dozens of Palestinian youths have heeded his call by going out to stab or run over the first Jew they see. Their blood is on Abbas's hands. He is the one who sent out the youths to "protect" al-Aqsa Mosque against the fictitious Jewish "invaders." He is the one who continues falsely to talk about "herds of settlers storming al-Aqsa Mosque" -- in reality, peaceful routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount. Thanks, however, to Abbas's falsehoods, his media continues to this day dishonestly to talk about "Jewish invaders and settlers storming" Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. This and this alone is the source of the knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

This, evidently, is the "culture of peace" to which Abbas is referring. How can he utter such a staggering lie when his media and top officials continue to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews on a daily basis? How precisely is Abbas promoting peace when his Palestinian Authority names schools and public squares after Palestinian terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands? Earlier this year, for example, Abbas's Fatah named a youth camp in Jericho after Dalal al-Mughrabi, a female terrorist who killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded more than 70, in 1978.

By honoring the murderers of Jews, Abbas is, instead, solely promoting a culture of hate and violence. His message to Palestinian youths is, straightforwardly: the more Jews you kill, the more honor and respect you will receive from your people.

Abbas talks about a "culture of peace" at a time when he and his Palestinian Authority are even combating all forms of "normalization" with Israel. The anti-normalization campaign, in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities, targets any Palestinian who dares to meet with Jews (even "pro-Palestinian" Jews). It operates solely under the auspices of the PA government. This campaign also promotes boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Its goal is to intimidate Palestinians who work towards peace and coexistence with Israel and to ban any business with Jews. Can any Palestinian invite Jews to a meeting in Ramallah without being targeted by the "anti-normalization" thugs, many of whom are affiliated with Abbas's Fatah?

Perhaps by a "culture of peace," Abbas means calling -- as he and his top officials regularly do -- Israel an apartheid and racist state. Or maybe "culture of peace" means calling all Jews "occupiers" and "colonists" -- or denouncing and threatening Palestinian children who play soccer with Israeli kids. Or naming schools and electoral lists after convicted murderers? Those seem like debatable ways to advance his "culture of peace."

Under Abbas, anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination is a business that has expanded exponentially. It has, in fact, grown to the point that a new generation has been raised on the glorification of jihadists, a generation impatient to draw yet more Jewish blood. If this is Abbas's "culture of peace," what, one wonders, would he consider a culture of war?
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.


Netanyahu: All embassies should be in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv

Netanyahu spoke in advance of US President Donald Trumps expected visit to Jerusalem 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on all countries with embassies in Israel to relocate them from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said at a Likud party event celebrating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the city’s unification in the Six-Day War later this month.

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It’s fitting that all the embassies — first and foremost that of our friend the United States — will be relocated to Jerusalem, which is their natural place,” he said.

He spoke in advance of US President Donald Trumps expected visit to Jerusalem on May 22-23. The trip comes as Trump must make a decision to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv or agree to waive a 1995 Congressional law that the building should be in Jerusalem.

Every president has exercised the waiver option every six months on ground of US national security interests.

Trump promised to relocate the embassy during his election campaign, but has been noncommittal since taking office.

Deputy White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee said on Wednesday, “The president has not made a decision yet – he’s still reviewing it. As soon as we have a decision, I know we’ll be happy to report back.”

There are at least 87 embassies in Israel, all of which are located in Tel Aviv, even though Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.  The Knesset, the Foreign Ministry, the Supreme Court and Prime Minister’s primary bureau are all located in Jerusalem.

The international community informally recognizes that western Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, but for the most part have withheld formal recognition, hesitating even to state that areas of the city within the pre-1967 borders are part of Israel.

Most countries hold that Jerusalem’s status should be determined in a final status agreement for a two-state solution.

When US President Barack Obama came to Jerusalem last year for the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, the White House removed the world Israel from the top of the speech leaving only Jerusalem.

Earlier this week when the French Embassy counted votes cast by its citizens in Israel for its presidential election, Jerusalem was not part of the Israeli tally. This included the voting areas in the western party of the city.

Russia recognized western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital only last month, but has no plans to recreate its embassy.
1c)  Hezbollah says future war with Israel could take place in Israeli territory

Two Israeli air strikes against Hezbollah targets inside Syria in recent weeks have raised tension between the two. BEIRUT - Lebanese Hezbollah said on Thursday that any future conflict between the Shi'ite group and Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, at a time of high tension between the arch foes.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said in a live televised speech that the group had dismantled all its military positions along Lebanon's eastern border with Syria, and this area was now the "responsibility of the state."

Israel "is scared and worried of any future confrontation... and knows that it could be inside the occupied Palestinian territories," Nasrallah said.

Two Israeli air strikes against Hezbollah targets inside Syria in recent weeks have raised tension between the two.

Nasrallah said the Syrian conflict had entered a new phase, without elaborating, but added that any opportunity to halt the fighting in the country should be seized.

1d)Palestinian university names class
of economics and political science students
after terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi
"The Class of the Bride of the Coast - 
Martyr Dalal Mughrabi"

Shabiba logo at graduation ceremony reads:
"From the sea of blood of the Martyrs 
we will create a state"
Meanwhile, Fatah youth movement music video honors 4 terrorists:
Abu Iyad - Planner of Olympic Massacre - 11 murdered
Abu Jihad - planned terror attacks - 125 murdered
Marwan Barghouti - planned terror attacks - 5 murdered
Dalal Mughrabi - led murder of 37, 12 of them children
 by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Senior Fatah leader Jamal Muhaisen speaking at university graduation
Banner shows 2 pictures of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi,
as well as Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat
When Fatah's student movement Shabiba held its annual graduation ceremony at the An-Najah National University together with the student council last month, it included a class named after terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi. Mughrabi led the most lethal terror attack in Israel's history, a bus hijacking in which 37 civilians, among them 12 children, were murdered.

Fatah's Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen spoke at the graduation and Fatah posted photos from it on Facebook. One photo shows a large banner at the event naming the economics and political science class after murderer Mughrabi:
Text on poster:
"[Fatah's] Shabiba student movement
The Martyrs' cell
Annual graduation ceremony
Class of the Bride of the Coast
Martyr Dalal Mughrabi"
[Official Fatah Facebook page, April 12, 2017]
The photo at the top shows Fatah official Jamal Muhaisen speaking at the event, and behind him a large banner displaying pictures of Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Arafat, and two pictures of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi. Next to the picture of Arafat is the logo of Shabiba at An-Najah National University. The logo states: "From the sea of blood of the Martyrs we will create a state" and shows a coat of arms featuring a raised fist in the shape of the PA map that presents all of Israel as "Palestine" together with the PA areas. 
Naming a university class after a terrorist murderer is yet another example of the Palestinian Authority's practice of educating for terror, which has been thoroughly documented in Palestinian Media Watch's report entitled PA education: A Recipe for Hate and Terror.
In the same vein, Fatah's youth movement Shabiba recently produced a music video which honors 4 terrorists, including Dalal Mughrabi:
Abu Iyad - Planner of Olympic Massacre - 11 athletes murdered
Abu Jihad - planned attacks - 125 murdered
Marwan Barghouti - planned attacks - 5 murdered
Dalal Mughrabi - led murder of 37, 12 of them children

"Our Shabiba is the Shabiba of the Elder (i.e., Yasser Arafat)
We are walking in your path, no matter what will be...
Abu Iyad lives and is not dead, his soul is with us, we will not forget him
Abu Jihad lives and is not dead, an idea never dies...
Fatah is my organization, O mother of the self-sacrificing fighters...
To Marwan Barghouti, the Shabiba sends its greatest greetings
Do not think that we have forgotten the blood that was spilled
O Jaffa, Dalal [Mughrabi] liberated your land"
[Official Fatah Facebook page, April 17, 2017; Facebook page of 
Fatah Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-Aloul, April 16, 2017]
PMW has documented that the PA has elevated terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi to the status of role model for Palestinian society. This is constantly reinforced by statements and activities by PA and Fatah officials. In March, the PLO Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, headed by Jibril Rajoub, named a youth camp after Mughrabias did the PA National Security Forces and Fatah.
Recently, former PLO Ambassador Omar Shalayel praised arch-terrorist Abu Jihad for "creating" Dalal Mughrabi and admired her "achievements":

"You know Dalal Mughrabi, [Abu Jihad] took her to a military base for six months and created a role model out of her. She succeeded in leading 10 or 11 men, crossing the sea, going 82 km. between Haifa and Tel Aviv, and killing 37 Israeli soldiers (sic., civilians), and imposing a curfew on half of the residents of Israel. This is a role model of his [Abu Jihad's] education, the education of this great man who acted quietly. To this day, [Dalal Mughrabi] is one of our heroes."
[Official PA TV, Panorama of the Hour, April 16, 2017] 

Abu Jihad orchestrated numerous attacks in which 125 Israelis were murdered. Among the attacks was the Coastal Road massacre led by Mughrabi in 1978.
The following is the post on the official Fatah Facebook page:

Posted text: "Nablus / Fatah Movement Central Committee member and Commissioner of Mobilization and Organization of the Northern Branches (i.e., the West Bank) Dr. Jamal Muhaisen, during his participation in the annual graduation ceremony held by the Martyrs' cell of [Fatah's] Shabiba student movement and the student council at An-Najah National University for the graduates. The ceremony today included the economics and political science students - the Class of the Bride of the Coast Martyr (Shahida) Dalal Mughrabi (i.e., terrorist who led murder of 37, 12 of them children)."
Dalal Mughrabi led the most lethal terror attack in Israel's history, known as the Coastal Road massacre, in 1978, when she and other Fatah terrorists hijacked a bus on Israel's Coastal Highway, murdering 37 civilians, 12 of them children, and wounding over 70.

1e)Abbas refuses to stop salaries to terrorists

On behalf of PA government, PA Minister of Justice:

"Our brave prisoners and righteous Martyrs...
are fighters for freedom, justice, and peace"
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

PA Chairman Abbas and numerous other Palestinian Authority leaders have rejected the demands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and many other governments and legislators to stop the payments of salaries to imprisoned terrorists.

Following the demand made by Israel and just before Abbas' meeting with Trump last week, Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake announced Abbas' "absolute refusal":

"The President [Abbas] emphasized his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).'"

[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 29, 2017]
There are two recurring Palestinian defenses of the payments. (See additional sources below.) The first is that the prisoners are not terrorists but "freedom fighters" and therefore rightfully are being rewarded. The second claim is that the payments are actually "social welfare for the families," and therefore not a reward for terror. Both of these claims are false.
First, the overwhelming majority of prisoners are not "fighters" who participated in any combat with soldiers but are terrorists who targeted civilians. Terrorists like Abdullah Barghouti who built the bombs that murdered 67 civilians at the Hebrew University, in cafés, and on buses cannot be called a "fighter." Marwan Barghouti, who is currently leading the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike, planned several shooting attacks in which 5 were murdered. This is cold-blooded murder and does not turn him into a "fighter." Nonetheless, each has received nearly nearly $200,000 in PA salaries. Few of the 6,500 Palestinian prisoners actually confronted Israeli soldiers as "fighters."

Second, the claim that the payments are social welfare for wives and children is likewise false. According to the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs report in 2010 63% of the prisoners at that time were single and yet they received the same high basic salaries, up to 12,000 shekels a month, depending on length of time in prison. Moreover, Palestinian law explicitly refers to the payments of salaries (Arabic = Rawatib). In addition, when the salaries get high enough the PA government withholds income tax as with all salaries.

Finally, Palestinian Media Watch has documented a case in which a prisoner's wife complained that she and her children were not receiving the prisoner's salary. The Minister of Prisoners' Affairs responded that although the prisoner should have given the money to his wife and children, the minister could not force him to since it was his personal salary:
PA TV journalist to wife of prisoner:"For nearly four years, the prisoner's allowance from the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs... has not reached your hands and your children's hands... Did you try to turn to the authorities?"
Prisoner's wife:"A year and a half ago, I went to the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs... Their answer was: 'Your husband transfers it to the person he wants. It's in his power not to transfer [it to you] and we can't do anything about it."
[Feb. 17, 2013, April 17, 2014]

In recent weeks, as international pressure has grown, there have been numerous statements by Palestinian leaders rejecting international requests to stop rewarding salaries to terrorists and allowances to families of so-called "Martyrs." Following Abbas' meeting with Trump, Abbas' deputy chairman of Fatah, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, reiterated that the PA under no circumstances would give in to American pressure to stop the salaries:

"Fatah Movement Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-Aloul said... that the PA will reject any proposal that demands to stop taking care of the families of the Martyrs, prisoners, and injured through the transfer of monthly financial allowances. He added that this is a national cause, and that the American administration and the occupation encountered a refusal on this matter.

Al-Aloul noted that the injured, Martyrs, and prisoners are Palestinian fighters, and that we must under no circumstances accede to the pressures to stop their allowances."
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, May 4, 2017]
In response to the demand to stop the financial rewards to terrorists, PA Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak also emphasized that "it is not possible... to stain with terror the struggle of our people that is defending itself, its land, its holy sites, its freedom, and its just rights," and stressed:

"The Martyrs and prisoners are the symbols of our legitimate national struggle, the conscience of our Palestinian people."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 23, 2017]
PLO Executive Committee member and member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine Tayseer Khaled has stressed the PLO's refusal to end the payments to terrorists:

"Those whose allowances the American administration is demanding to stop are freedom fighters, and the Palestinian side cannot relate to these provocative demands. The Palestinian National Fund, which... takes care of the families of the Martyrs, wounded, and prisoners, and will continue to do so regardless of the positions of the Israeli government and the American administration."

[Donia Al-Watan, independent Palestinian news agency, April 22, 2017]
The international community's demands that the PA stop rewarding terrorist murderers with salaries follow Palestinian Media Watch's thorough documentation of this PA practice. PMW first reported on the salaries in 2011 and has since followed up numerous times with additional information, most recently with the report The PA's Billion Dollar Fraud, documenting the PA's ploy to fool Western donors into believing the PA is no longer paying the salaries.

PA and Fatah leaders continue to repackage the imprisoned terrorists as "freedom fighters" and "heroes." Speaking "on behalf of the prime minister and the government," PA's Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak called the terrorist prisoners "brave" and "fighters for freedom":
"I salute our brave prisoners... We emphasize to the world that our brave prisoners and righteous Martyrs (Shahids) are the victims of the Israeli occupation's crimes and they are fighters for freedom, justice, and peace."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 5, 2017] 
At a rally in Ramallah "in solidarity with the prisoners' movement," Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake said:

"We are a people that only wants its freedom. Our prisoners are not terrorists, but rather fighter heroes and prisoners of honor and freedom."
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 27, 2017]
The PA's Grand Mufti has ruled that "supporting the prisoners" is a "religious obligation":
"[PA] Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories and Chairman of the Supreme Fatwa Council Sheikh Muhammad Hussein and the muftis of the districts called on the members of the Palestinian people to participate in activities supporting the Palestinian prisoners in their struggle and hunger strike... They said that this is a religious obligation in which everyone must take part."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 13, 2017]
The following are longer excerpts of the statements referred to above:
"[PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah participated yesterday [May 4, 2017] at the tent of the sit-in strike set up in Ramallah as a sign of solidarity for the prisoners...
Hamdallah was accompanied by District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Laila Ghannam, [PA] Minister of Health Jawad Awwad, and [PA] Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak.

Abu Diyak said in a speech before the sit-in strikers on behalf of the prime minister and the government: 'I salute our brave prisoners behind the fences of the Israeli prisons who are waging the [hunger] strike of freedom and dignity, the Campaign of the Empty Stomachs, in order to stop the Israeli violations against them, and for their human dignity and just rights that are anchored in international conventions and agreements. We emphasize to the world that our brave prisoners and righteous Martyrs (Shahids) are the victims of the Israeli occupation's crimes and they are fighters for freedom, justice, and peace."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 5, 2017]
Headline: "Leadership members, released prisoners, and prisoners' families to Wattan: 'We refuse Trump's demand of President Abbas to stop the prisoners' allowances"
"After Palestinian [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to the White House and his meeting with American President Donald Trump yesterday evening [May 3, 2017], the White House published a statement in which it was explained that Trump demanded of Abbas that the PA stop paying the allowances (mukhassasat) of the prisoners, Martyrs (Shahids), and injured as a step towards a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis...

This statement stirred opposition and anger among Palestinian groups, and particularly [among] the prisoners, their relatives, and the parties taking care of their matters, and also among the political echelon.

Fatah Movement Deputy Chairman [and Fatah Central Committee member] Mahmoud Al-Aloul said in an interview with the [independent Palestinian news] agency Wattan that the PA will reject any proposal that demands to stop taking care of the families of the Martyrs, prisoners, and injured through the transfer of monthly financial allowances (mukhassasat). He added that this is a national cause, and that the American administration and the occupation encountered a refusal on this matter.

Al-Aloul noted that the injured, Martyrs, and prisoners are Palestinian fighters, and that we must under no circumstances accede to the pressures to stop their allowances."

[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, May 4, 2017]
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer spoke on May 3, 2017, about the meeting between US President Donald Trump and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas the previous day, and said: "President [Trump] raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror and to their families and emphasized the need to resolve this issue." He also noted that Trump had talked to Abbas about preventing incitement in Palestinian media outlets.

Headline: "The [PA] president: The prisoners' cause is a priority among the issues in which the leadership is interested"

"[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed a delegation of families of Martyrs (Shahids) and hunger striking prisoners from all districts of the homeland yesterday [April 28, 2017] at his presidential office in Ramallah.

The president emphasized that the leadership is in contact with all of the international parties in order to pressure the government of Israel to accede to the prisoners' just humanitarian demands.

The president noted that the prisoners' cause is a priority among the issues in which the leadership is interested. He called on everyone to stand alongside the prisoners and their just cause, and to ease their suffering and their families' suffering."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 29, 2017]

Abbas posed with several relatives of imprisoned terrorists and "Martyrs," among them:

Khaled Khdeish - a Palestinian terrorist who was involved in the murder of 2 Israeli soldiers and the wounding of 3 others. Khdeish is serving 2 life sentences and an additional 20 years. PMW was unable to find additional information regarding his crimes.

Um Nasser Abu Hmeid (Um Yusuf Abu Hmeid/Latifa Abu Hmeid) - The mother of four prisoners serving multiple life sentences. She is also called Khansa of Palestine (referring to a woman in the earliest period of Islam who sent her four sons to battle and rejoiced when they all died as Martyrs), honored in 2010 and in 2015 by the PA, and was chosen in 2011 to launch the PA's statehood campaign with the UN.

Hmeid's sons are serving the following sentences for the following crimes:

Nasser Abu Hmeid was a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Fatah's military wing) in Ramallah and is serving 7 life sentences and 50 years for killing 7 Israeli civilians and 12 attempted murders.

Nasr Abu Hmeid was a member of Tanzi
m (Fatah terror faction) and is serving 5 life sentences for involvement in two terror attacks and arms dealing.

Sharif Abu Hmeid was a member of one of his brothers' units that carried out terror attacks against civilians and soldiers. He is serving 4 life sentences for accompanying a suicide bomber to his attack in March 2002.

Muhammad Abu Hmeid is serving 2 life sentences and 30 years for involvement in terror attacks.

Headline: "Karake demanded urgent international intervention and confirmed that an additional group of prisoners has joined the [hunger] strike of freedom and dignity"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake... explained in an interview with Radio Mawtini today, Saturday [April 29, 2017]... that '[PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] emphasized his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances (mukhassasat) of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).'"
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 29, 2017]
Headline: "Karake warned against the deaths as Martyrs in the ranks of the striking prisoners"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake today, Thursday [April 27, 2017], warned against the deaths as Martyrs (Shahids) in the ranks of the prisoners who are hunger striking for the 11th consecutive day.

In a speech that he gave during the mass rally that passed through the streets of Ramallah and El-Bireh as a sign of solidarity with the prisoners' movement, he added that 'the world must listen to the prisoners' voices and the Palestinian people's voice - we are a people that only wants its freedom. Our prisoners are not terrorists, but rather fighter heroes and prisoners of honor and freedom.'

Karake explained that the occupation state is the one that creates terror, and the prisoners are determined to continue the strike until achieving their legal demands or Martyrdom-death (Shahada)."

[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 27, 2017]
Headline: "Abu Diyak: The occupation is terrorist and the prisoners are symbols of our struggle"

"[PA] Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak emphasized yesterday [April 22, 2017] that it is not possible... to stain with terror the struggle of our people that is defending itself, its land, its holy sites, its freedom, and its just rights.

Abu Diyak said in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statements regarding the request to stop paying financial allowances (mukhassasat) to the prisoners and the Martyrs' (Shahids') families: 'The Martyrs and prisoners are the symbols of our legitimate national struggle, the conscience of our Palestinian people, and victims of the organized terror and state terror that the occupation uses against our people.'

Abu Diyak noted that the Palestinian problem will not be resolved by submitting to the extremist Zionist ideology, but rather by making a just and dignified peace, and that peace will not be achieved by delegitimizing the Palestinian struggle against the occupation, but rather by ending the occupation and the settlement enterprise... 
Secretary-General of the [Palestinian] Popular Struggle Front and PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani said that the statements of the occupation prime minister... are incitement against the PA and the continuation of a series of [statements by Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor] Liberman, who called to define the [Palestinian] National Fund as a 'terror organization.'"

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 23, 2017]
On March 16, 2017, Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman declared the Palestinian National Fund of the PLO a terrorist organization. The fund manages financial aid received by the PLO from different sources. The Israeli Ministry of Defense declare the fund a terror organization due to the fund's "massive support for elements responsible for committing severe acts of terrorism against Israel," and stated that the fund serves "as a significant financial pipeline for tens of millions of shekels that are transferred on a monthly basis to security prisoners held in Israel for committing acts of terrorism and to members of their families," and that "the fund also supports family members of terrorists who were wounded and killed while perpetrating acts of terrorism against Israel." It also stated that "the necessary steps will be taken, in Israel and abroad, to seize and forfeit the property and money belonging to the fund."

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that the PA uses the Palestinian National Fund to transfer money for terrorist salaries to the PLO.

Headline: "The Prisoner's Day events in Beit Rima and Deir Ghassaneh were completed"

"Deputy District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Hamdan Barghouti said: 'The prisoners have sacrificed years of their lives so that we will live in dignity. The solidarity events must continue in order to support the prisoners, especially in their campaign against the Israeli policy against them, and especially in light of the fact that their demands are legitimate.'

He noted that the Israeli ministers are inciting against the prisoners and demanding to execute them (see note -Ed.), and emphasized that the occupation is practicing Nazism against our prisoners."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 20, 2017]
PMW could find no call by any Israeli minister to execute terrorist prisoners. This claim apparently refers to statements by Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Transportation Yisrael Katz on March 6 and 7, 2017, when he said that terrorist Marwan Barghouti should have been sentenced to the death penalty rather than receive life imprisonment.

1f)Abbas lies - will Trump buy?

by PMW staff

Last week, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas told President Trump in a statement broadcast around the globe that the PA raises its children on "a culture of peace."

The next day Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas' statement was "not true." This PMW video is the proof.

All of the clips in this video are taken from the official Palestinian Authority TV channel and reflect the PA's official messaging and ideology. The collection is clear evidence that the Palestinian Authority actively indoctrinates Palestinian children to hate.
The following is a transcript of the video:

Who is telling the truth? Benjamin Netanyahu or Mahmoud Abbas?
PA Chairman Abbas: "Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our children and our grandchildren on a culture of peace." [White House Press Conference, May 3, 2017]
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I heard President Abbas yesterday say that they teach Palestinians teach their children peace. That's unfortunately not true." [May 4, 2017]
Who is telling the truth? You decide!
The following broadcasts are from official Palestinian Authority TV controlled by the Palestinian Authority
Young children: "My rock, my rock has turned into an AK-47 (rifle)."
PA TV host: Bravo!
[Official PA TV Jan. 20, 2017]
Young boy: "As we slaughtered them in your streets, Beirut
For you, Yasser Arafat, for you we shall die...
Tomorrow we will take our vengeance, and their leader will be carried in a coffin
We, Fatah, are a storm, and our blood is food for the revolution."
[Official PA TV Jan. 6, 2017]
Young boy: "Fight the Jews, kill them, and defeat them."
[Official PA TV March 22 and 25, 2015]
Clips of young children: "To war that will smash the oppression and destroy the Zionist's soul"
[Official PA TV Jan. 29, 2013, Official PA TV March 1, 2013, Official PA TV April 25, 2014, Official PA TV Feb. 19, 2016, Official PA TV March 17, 2017]
Young boy: "Pick up your rifle, resist and terrify [them]...
Destroy, shock, burn and set fire"
[Official PA TV Live Sept. 16, 2014]
Clips of young children: "O Sons of Zion, O most evil among creations
O barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs"
[Official PA TV July 3, 2013, Official PA TV May 29, 2015, Official PA TV Sept. 12, 2014]
Young girl: "Allah's enemies, the sons of pigs...
They raped the women in the city squares...
Where are the nation of Islam and the Jihad fighters? ..."
PA TV host: "Bravo, applause!"
[Official PA TV March 22, 2013]
Satan: I've built my plan on the burning hate and loathing of Muhammad and his supporters, that fills the hearts of the Jews.
[Official PA TV, July 29, 2013 and Fatah-run Awdah TV, June 25, 2016]
Clips of young children: "Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail"
[Official PA TV April 7, 2012, Official PA TV May 8, 2012, Official PA TV May 13 and 14, 2014]
Young girl: "Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail..."
PA TV host: "Thank you very much. I really like this poem."
[Official PA TV Nov. 6, 2015]
Teenage girl: "We say that Palestine exists, and Palestine will return to us, and there is no such thing as Israel."
Host: Bravo!
[Official PA TV Nov. 6, 2015]
So who is lying?

by Rafael Medoff

(Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and author or editor of 16 books about the Holocaust and Jewish history.)

   A French political leader who referred sympathetically to a prominent Holocaust-denier has been forced to resign in disgrace. But a Palestinian political leader who referred sympathetically to the same Holocaust-denier was welcomed at the White House this week. Why the double standard?

   Jean-Francois Jalkh, leader of France’s National Front party, resigned in disgrace on April 28 after it was revealed that in a 2000 interview, he said it was “impossible” for the Nazis to have carried out mass murder with poison gas. As his source, Jalkh cite

   Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has referred to Faurisson in similar terms, in a bizarre and disturbing book that Abbas wrote in 1983 called

“The Other Side: The Secret Relations Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement.”

   The central thesis of the book, which Abbas wrote as his doctoral dissertation at Moscow University, is that David Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders “collaborated with Hitler” and wanted the Nazis to kill Jews, because “having more victims meant greater rights and stronger privilege to join the negotiating table for dividing the spoils of war once it was over.”

   The “real” number of Jews murdered by the Nazis was “much lower” than six million and might well have been “below one million,” Abbas wrote. “Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions—fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand.”

   One of the alleged authorities whom Abbas cited was the same Holocaust-denier at the center of the recent controversy in France. “In a scientific study published by the French professor Robert Faurisson, he challenges the existence of gas chambers which served the purpose of killing living Jews,” Abbas wrote. “He claims that the gas chambers were only used to burn corpses, out of fear of spreading plagues and viruses. It would not take a great effort in order to prove and document this aspect of the truth.”

   Not only has Abbas never disavowed what he wrote in his book, he has reaffirmed it. In a January 21, 2013 interview with the Lebanese television station Al-Mayadeen, Abbas was asked about his Holocaust writings. “I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II,” Abbas responded, adding that he has “seventy more books that I still haven’t published” that supposedly would prove his claims.

   Back in 2003, there were rumors that Abbas might visit Israel. Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Isaac Herzog (then a member of Knesset from the Labor Party, today leader of its successor, the Zionist Union) called for any such visit to include a public “apology and correction” by Abbas for his 1983 Holocaust book. Abbas’s “intolerable accusation” against Jewish and Zionist leaders needed to be explicitly retracted, Herzog  insisted.

   Herzog's point is equally relevant today. The hope of achieving genuine peace rests on the willingness of the Palestinian Authority leadership to sincerely reject the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred of the past. Every time a PA official or media outlet denies, minimizes, or distorts the Holocaust (including comparisons of Israel to the Nazis), they are stoking the old flames of hatred that were supposed to have been extinguished with the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

   In France, the National Front’s Jean-Francois Jalkh was compelled to resign because the force of public opinion made it clear that he had crossed a line. Civilized society does not tolerate Holocaust-deniers. It should not tolerate Mahmoud Abbas’s version of Holocaust-denial, either.

Israeli minister: Abbas most antisemitic leader in the world

He is the latest in a string of right-wing leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to attack Abbas for presenting himself as a peace maker. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “is the most antisemitic  leader in the world,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio on Sunday.

He spoke in advance of his speech to The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York at 4:25 p.m. Israeli time, which will be live streamed at

He is the latest in a string of right-wing leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to attack Abbas for presenting himself as a peace maker when speaking at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump at the White House last Wednesday.

In that meeting Trump said he was relaunching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which has been frozen for three years and has since announced a visit to Israel at the end of this month.

Trump is a good friend to Israel, said Steinitz, adding that he was pleased the US president was coming to Jerusalem early in his first term.

“But with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. I am not optimistic. Abu Mazen [the second name Abbas is known by] doesn’t begin to meet the most basic requirements to be a partner for peace,” Steinitz said.

“In Washington he spoke about peace and educating for peace. But the basic messages of the Palestinian educational system is that Israel must disappear from the map sooner or later. Jews are terrible people that must be gotten rid of and terrorists are heroes,” Steinitz stressed.

“On top of that Abu Mazen does not control Gaza,” he added.

The Energy Minister also noted that Abbas will not be able to get rid of terrorist groups, militias and the tunnels these groups want to use against Israel.

“What is the point of coming to an agreement with him, if he does not have a mandate, not in Gaza and not in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank],” Steinitz concluded



Back in 1967, Moscow shrugged when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran, cutting shipping routes to the Israeli port of Eilat—Israel’s only one in the Red Sea. Egyptian and Syrian troop movements on the Israeli border — coupled with Nasser’s fiery rhetoric threatening mass slaughter — paved the way for war. All the while, Moscow fed the Egyptians and Syrians erroneous information about Israeli troop movements.  

The Israelis put an end to all of it with a blitzkrieg that neutralized Russia’s Arab clients in six days, and in the process seized the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and much of the Golan Heights.  

Fifty years later and history looks set to repeat itself. Russia’s allies are again provoking the Israelis, who may ultimately see little choice but to strike first. The ensuing war, Israel warns, could, like the Six Day War in 1967, fundamentally change the region.

The theater this time is Syria, but the precipitating factor for the next conflict — believe it or not — isn’t Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. It is Iran’s most lethal proxy, Hezbollah.
Tehran dispatched Hezbollah to buttress Assad’s beleaguered Syrian troops. The first Arab child of Iran’s Islamic revolution, the Lebanese Shiite militant organization have deployed thousands of fighters to Syria, who are now gaining valuable experience from the war.  

Iran is also arming Hezbollah in preparation for the next conflict with Israel. In fall 2015, Israel’s military assessed that Hezbollah had increased its rocket arsenal from an estimated 100,000 to roughly 150,000 since the Syrian war began.

Later that year, the Russians began to carry out airstrikes against rebel groups fighting to oust Assad from Syria. Moscow had long provided Assad with arms and other provisions via its Mediterranean naval facility in Tartus. But the Russians soon deployed ground and air forces, intelligence assets, and heavy hardware to protect the Assad regime, making it clear that Syria was part of its ever-expanding sphere of influence.

Russia soon established fusion centers so that it could coordinate its war effort with Iran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime. Hezbollah has benefited from Russian air cover, and even fought alongside Russian forces against Syrian rebels.

Meanwhile Iran and its Lebanese proxy have tried to exploit both the Russian presence and the fog of war to move what Israelis have called “game-changing weapons” from the war zone to Lebanon. Israeli officials say the weapons they are attempting to acquire include long-range and high payload rockets, lethal anti-ship missiles, and perhaps even sophisticated anti-aircraft systems.

These weapons have prompted a distinct sense of alarm inside Israel’s Kiriya, their Pentagon. Officials say the hardware would reduce the Israeli edge significantly when the next war erupts, which is why Israel has so far launched some three-dozen airstrikes throughout Syria, according to one senior Israel official

It’s unclear if these sorties represent the entirety of the Israeli effort. But we do know that the drama came into full focus in March when the Syrian army fired anti-aircraft weapons at Israeli aircraft after they struck what was believed to be yet another Hezbollah weapons convoy inside Syria. The anti-aircraft missile hurtled toward Israeli territory, prompting the Israelis to use its medium-range Arrow missile defense system.

The Arrow incident has led to an escalation in the war of words. Damascus has threatened that future incursions will prompt Scud attacks, and even warned that Russia will come to their aid if the Israelis strike again.
It is doubtful that Russia would fire on an Israeli aircraft, especially given that the Israelis have paid multiple visits to Moscow to ensure that their air force can continue to strike Iranian and Hezbollah assets when required.

The longer Iran and Hezbollah have to perfect their weapons smuggling infrastructure, the higher the likelihood of a successful transfer of “game changing weapons.” Hezbollah already has tens of thousands of rockets but a successful transfer of more advanced weapons would be a red line for Israel, prompting a pre-emptive strike before those weapons can be deployed.
The Israelis have warned repeatedly that the next war with Hezbollah could be one in which Israel will seek nothing less than total defeat and ousting of Hezbollah from Lebanon.

Vladimir Putin’s foray into Syria has been described as an attempt to resurrect Russia’s past. But Soviet actions in the Middle East contributed inexorably to the Six Day War and its own weakening in the region. Russia risks repeating the mistakes it made a half century ago, mistakes that still have a profound impact on the region today.

Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies

1i)  Is Trump Keeping His Mideast Promises?
A briefing by Gregg Roman

Summary account by Marilyn Stern, Middle East Forum Communications Coordinator.
In his first 100 days, President Trump has successfully reasserted America's long-standing role as the Middle East's great power.
Whereas the Obama administration sought to create a "hegemonic equilibrium" - a balance of power between the regional powers - the Trump administration has charted a different course, re-embracing America's allies and casting off its foes. This has included,

The Trump administration launched cruise missile strikes on Shayrat air base in Syria last month following the Assad regime's latest chemical weapons attack.
  • Increased military support to Washington's regional allies, be it an improved aid package to Israel, munitions to Riyadh to maintain an edge against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, or direct arming of the Kurdish defense forces battling ISIS.
  • Demonstrated readiness for direct military action, including wider leeway for anti-ISIS/al-Qaeda attacks, increased airstrikes and drone strikes, and the deployment of U.S. forces in Syria, Iraq and Djibouti.
  • Diplomatic engagement with key allies shunned by the Obama administration, notably Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi.
  • Insistence on the attainment of Israeli-Palestinian peace through direct negotiations between the two parties with Washington playing only a supportive role.
A potential downside to President Trump's increased engagement has been his outreach to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the referendum formally confirming him as dictator for life. Whereas Tehran can be seen as today's "problem child," Turkey may well become tomorrow's trouble spot.
Ultimately, however, the reassertion of Washington's hegemonic position in the Middle East supports President Trump's broader goal of strengthening the U.S. abroad in order to keep Americans safer at home.

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