November 18, 2018

Missile Strikes Expose Limited Options in Gaza

Photo by Suhaib Salem/Reuters

It’s Nov. 13 and all of Israel is focused on the Gaza Strip.

This morning, after a barrage of Hamas missile attacks, it appeared Israel had no choice but to up the ante. Its deterrence of Hamas wasn’t working. Its reluctance to go to war was being perceived as weakness. Its measured counterattacks following the massive bombings of Israeli cities looked like acts of hesitation.

The morning air felt heavy with the looming specter of death — mostly, but not only, from the impending deaths of Gazans. Would the “dead men walking” in Gaza’s streets be counted by the dozens, the hundreds or maybe the thousands? We braced ourselves for the next round of violence to erupt.

Now, this evening, a cease fire is suddenly on the horizon. Will it hold? (By the time you read this in the Journal, you’ll know. At this moment I write, I don’t.)

Israeli leaders, goes the cliché, have only two options in Gaza. They can conduct small wars and arrange for short-term ceasefires; or they can send the Israel Defense Forces to reoccupy Gaza and uproot the government of Hamas. But reoccupation of Gaza is not an option — it is madness. Luckily, Israel’s leaders, while not perfect, are not mad. 

What are the real options in Gaza? One is to fight Hamas until it accepts certain terms that result in peace and quiet for a while. The other one — an option heralded by some opposition leaders — is to help the Palestinian Authority take over Gaza. That is, to cooperate with Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas. 

Leaders who support the latter option suspect that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not pursue it because he is averse to strengthening the Palestinian Authority’s leadership. Netanyahu, they argue, prefers to deal with two weakened Palestinian factions so he can claim to have no partner for a comprehensive peace deal that includes all Palestinians. Maybe. But there is an alternative explanation to such a strategy — which is no less sensible. Netanyahu does not believe that Abbas and his allies can control Gaza effectively. He does not want to waste Israeli resources — or lives — on a lost cause. 

Netanyahu has been very clear, possibly too clear, in expressing his reluctance to go to war in Gaza.

“Whatever one thinks about Israel’s long-term strategy toward Gaza, its short-term goal has been to avoid war, to even accept some humiliation in an effort to restore the peace.”

“I am doing everything I can to avoid an unnecessary war,” he declared in Paris before rushing back to Israel as a rain of rockets threatened to escalate into war. In the past couple of months, Netanyahu has negotiated (indirectly) with Hamas, has allowed Qatar to transfer money to Hamas, and has accepted the embarrassment of being criticized from right and left. Hamas has tested him time and again, sending hordes of demonstrators to harass the IDF near the Gaza fence, firing the occasional rocket, and burning fields on the Israeli side of the border. 

If or when war begins, Netanyahu will be portrayed by some international media as a bloodthirsty warmonger. But a sober assessment of his actions — including in this past week when many others were ready for heightened violence — would conclude that he might have been too hesitant, too accommodating, too eager for compromise. He was the one restraining the cabinet, reining in his gung-ho colleagues. Whatever one thinks about Israel’s long-term strategy toward Gaza, its short-term goal has been to avoid war, to even accept some humiliation in an effort to restore the peace.

The eruption of violence began when an Israeli elite unit was discovered and attacked in the Gaza Strip. The unit’s mission in Gaza has remained secret, but military professionals insist it was essential. When Hamas retaliated, Israel responded calmly, understanding the need of Hamas to blow off steam. Then Israel learned that Hamas’ definition of blowing steam was greater than expected. A bus was attacked by an antitank missile, and a soldier was badly wounded. Rockets were fired on Israeli cities and citizens. In Ashkelon, a man was killed. Ironically, he was a Palestinian worker — the only man Hamas was able to kill as of this morning. (The Middle East is filled with such unfortunate ironies.) 

Netanyahu still wanted to limit the scope of Israel’s response, to explore the possibility of a ceasefire. His logic was solid: A war will not change the basic realities that make Gaza a thorny problem for Israel.

Lewis Carroll wrote in “Alice Through the Looking Glass” that sometimes “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” Today, Netanyahu insisted that sitting is better than running, if all one wants is to keep in the same place.  

True, seeing a country sitting on its hands does not instill much awe or inspiration. But in Gaza, Israel doesn’t wish to inspire. It wishes to avoid disruption and violence. No more, no less.

Human Rights Watch Report Details PA’s ‘Arrest and Torture’ of Dissenters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during Fatah Central Committee meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

A new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) details how the Palestinian Authority (PA) is conducting political “arrests and torture” of civilians who criticized the PA.

The report states that HRW interviewed 147 people, which included former PA prisoners, family members, lawyers and NGOs, leading HRW to conclude that the PA might have committed “a crime against humanity” through what appears to be arbitrary arrest and torture of civilians.

In one case, a Palestinian identified as “Zaid,” was detained by the PA while residing in the Balata Refugee camp, an area that engages in “resistance” activity against PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Zaid said PA officials accused him of murder, and when he said he was not involved, PA officers tortured him:

Officers then handcuffed his hands behind his back, covered his face, and put him in “the Closet,” a room he described as roughly 60 centimeters by 60 centimeters in size where he said he had difficulty breathing. He said they kept him there for 22 hours a day for 22 consecutive days. Later, they had him stand on a wooden box and tied his handcuffed hands to a rope, which they gradually raised to stretch his arms. He said they kept him like this for 20 hours, before letting him sleep. They then returned him to shabeh [positional torture]. In subsequent interrogations, officers threatened to return him to shabeh if he did not speak.

At one point during his first three days of detention, Zaid said officers in the corridor put wires on the back of his shoulders and twice shocked him for about 25 to 30 seconds, and once tied a cord around his penis for eight or nine hours, causing his penis to swell and turn blue. On his third day, while handcuffed and blindfolded, he said a guard pushed him to the ground and, for 10 minutes, repeatedly hit and kicked him, fracturing his knee and causing him to lose consciousness. He woke 20 minutes later to find himself with a doctor.

Zaid was eventually acquitted and released.

Social media posts critical of the PA can be enough for them to detain a Palestinian, as Hamza Zbeidat discovered when he was detained and PA officials blatantly told him it was a “political arrest”:

He said the security officers then called him a liar, asking, “What did the PA ever do to you? You do not pay electricity?” Zbeidat denied that he was a liar and an officer slapped him, knocking off his glasses. Another officer then read one of Zbeidat’s Facebook posts from two months earlier in which he had written, “We will struggle against the PA like we struggle against the occupation.” They asked him, “Why are you attacking [the PA] and swearing at the president?” Zbeidat defended his right to speak and to criticize authorities, which prompted the officer to threaten to imprison him. Officers also asked him about his political affiliation, what he shares on Facebook, and why he criticizes the PA and not Hamas.

The PA was also found to have targeted journalists. Muhammed al-Haj, an independent photojournalist, told HRW that he resides in Jordan because he is “constantly harassed” by the PA after he published a government memo detailing security cooperation with the Israelis, a document that contradicted public statements issued by Abbas.

“The PA exists to look after me, not to intimidate me,” al-Haj said.

One student, Alaa Zaqeq, was detained and beaten by PA officers for his alleged involvement a Hamas campus affiliate. He was subjected to one interrogator known as “the Juicer”:

The Juicer pulled him up by his shirt and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. He then began asking Zaqeq about his activities with the Islamic Bloc, the student group affiliated with Hamas, at the university. When he failed to answer satisfactorily, the Juicer subjected him to shabeh [positional torture]. The Juicer told him he would “leave this place on a wheelchair” and “wearing a skirt and a headscarf.”

This pattern of interrogations and abuse continued over the course of 24 days in Jericho. Zaqeq said the shabeh he experienced included forcing him to stand with his legs spread out and hands up or in a half squat, all of which left his body trembling.53 To elicit a confession, officers in one instance told him that a member of his family had fallen ill; in another, they threatened to arrest his mother, sister, and wife. These threats led Zaqeq to confess to financing the Islamic Bloc at the university, even though he told Human Rights Watch that this was untrue.

Zaqeq said he told officials that he had asthma, a muscle rupture in his chest, and nerveinflammation. According to Zaqeq, they replied, “We do not care” and “Even if you die, no one will care.” He saw a doctor at one point when he could not move his thumb and legs and felt pain in his shoulders. The doctor gave him painkillers, telling him he could not take him to the hospital. Sleeping for two weeks without a mattress in the cell exacerbated Zaqeq’s pain.

Zaqeq has since been detained multiple times by the Israelis; the report did not state why.

HRW wrote a letter to the PA criticizing their actions, stating that PA “security forces routinely mistreat and torture those in its custody, taunting, beating, whipping, and forcing detainees into painful stress positions for hours at a time,” and that those detainees were only arrested for “peaceful” criticism of the PA and were not subjected to due process.

“The pattern of arbitrary arrests and torture that we have been documenting appears to be systematic and to have been in place for many years,” HRW Middle East and Africa Executive Director Sarah Leah Whitson wrote to the PA. “Moreover, Palestinian authorities have largely failed to hold security forces accountable for these abuses.”

The PA denied any wrongdoing in their response to HRW.

Read the full report here.

Fatah Alters Photo to Promote Anti-Semitic Blood Libel

Fatah, the party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, posted a doctored photo on their Facebook page to promote an anti-Semitic libel.

Here is the photo, posted on Oct. 5:

 

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the photo was originally a 2009 photo of a man running a surveillance system at France’s Casino Theatre Barriere de Toulouse.

The photo posted on Fatah’s Facebook page featured the man wearing a kippah, an Israeli flag in the left-hand corner of the image, and the words “Death to the Goyim” on top of images of Palestinian Ahed Tamimi.

The Arabic text that’s highlighted red reads, according to PMW, “The smear campaign against Ahed Tamimi is being waged by the occupation through its tools, and who is benefiting from this?”

Tamimi has become a cause celebre among pro-Palestinians after being imprisoned for eight months after slapping an Israeli soldier. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah praised Tamimi as “brave and courageous” in August.

Such anti-Semitic blood libels are common among Abbas’ Fatah party, as documented by PMW here. Abbas also has his share anti-Semitic blood libels, as compiled by the Journal here.

Report: PA Arrests Palestinian American for Selling Property to Jewish Organization

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during Fatah Central Committee meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Palestinian Authority arrested a Palestinian-American for selling an East Jerusalem house to a Jewish organization, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The Post’s report states that the Palestinian-American is a 55-year-old man who “is being interrogated” by the PA for being a “solicitor” in the sale, receiving $25,000 in commission for doing so.

There is a currently a fatwa in place that prohibits Palestinians from selling property to Israelis; in 2010, a PA court ruled that any such transaction would result in the death penalty.

The State Department told the Post that they are aware of the arrest and are concerned as to how the PA will treat the man. The PA declined to comment to the Post.

Lahav Harkov, an editor for the Post, tweeted:

U.S. Rescinds Parts of Two Treaties to Avoid U.N. Court Actions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton attend the "Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem" event at the United Nations in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration announced that they had rescinded parts of two treaties on Wednesday, stating that it was necessary to protect their sovereignty from the United Nation’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The first treaty was the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran, which the ICJ cited as basis for the United States to stop its sanctions on the Iranian regime that hinder humanitarian goods and services from entering the country.

“This is a decision frankly that is 39 years overdue,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

Pompeo also argued that Iran was “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes” and that Iran should utilize its resources for humanitarian efforts rather than funneling it toward terror throughout the Middle East.

“Those are dollars the Iranian leadership is squandering,” Pompeo said. “They could be providing humanitarian assistance to their own people but have chosen a different path.”

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters on Wednesday that the United States would also be exiting from an amendment to the Vienna Convention, which the Palestinians are using to challenge the United States’ Jerusalem embassy move. He added that the United States will be reviewing other international agreements as well.

“The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” Bolton said.

PA Doubles Down on Terror Payments

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stands before his address to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The Palestinian Authority (PA) will not abandon their policy of providing payments to terrorists and their families, according to a translation of PA leaders’ recent speeches by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

PMW highlighted a Sept. 21 quote from the PA’s daily newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadidia, where Qadri Abu Bakr, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Director of Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs, stating that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA leadership “will not succumb to the Israeli and American pressures calling to stop the Martyrs’ (Shahids) and prisoners’ salaries (rawatib) and allowances.”

The PMW report also pointed to Abbas stating on Palestinian Authority TV on July 24 that “even if we have only a penny left, it will only be spent on the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will it be spent on the rest of the people,” adding that the “Martyrs” and “prisoners” are “stars in the sky of the Palestinian people and the sky of the Palestinian people’s struggle.”

Both the United States and Israel have passed laws in attempts to end what has been called the PA’s “pay-to-slay” policy. President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law on March 23, which zeroes out payments to the PA until they end the “pay-to-slay” policy. The Israeli Knesset passed a law in July that freezes their funding to the PA.

As the Journal has reported, Palestinian terrorists can receive up to $3,400 per month from the PA if they murder Jews; by contrast, the average Palestinian earns $150 per month. The PA spent $355 million on such terror payments in 2017.

H/T: Investigative Project for Terrorism

EU Budget to Withhold Palestinian Aid Over Anti-Semitism in Textbooks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

A committee in the European Parliament voted on Thursday to withhold more than $17 million in Palestinian aid due to anti-Semitism in Palestinian textbooks.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the committee voted to amend the European Union’s budget to freeze the aid based on textbook content that featured “numerous examples of violent depictions, hate speech – in particular against Israel – and glorifications of jihad and martyrdom.”

Examples included textbooks stating that the United States was at fault for the 9/11 terror attacks, as well as hailing Palestinian “martyrdom…in clashes against Israelis.”

Under the amendment, the money will be unfrozen “when the Palestinian Authority has committed to reform its school curriculum and textbooks to bring them in line with UNESCO standards for peace and tolerance in school education.”

The more than $17 million in withheld funds amounts to around 5 percent of the EU total aid to the Palestinian Authority.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in August that the PA textbooks were part of the reason as to why the United States cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

PA Reportedly Gives $3,350 to Family of Killer of Pro-Israel Activist

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) reportedly gave $3,350 to the family of Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, the 17-year-old Palestinian who stabbed to death Israeli activist Ari Fuld, 45, hours after the murder took place.

Avi Mayer, the assistant executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tweeted on Monday that Israeli media reported that $3,350 is the “initial payment” to the terrorist’s family:

According to the Jerusalem Post, Jabarin’s family is currently set to receive nearly $400 a month over the next three years.

The PA reportedly has given approximately $330 million to terrorists and their families in 2017 and 2018 under its “pay-to-slay” policy, the Post reported.

The United States and Israel recently have passed laws to cut funding to the PA to leverage the entity into ending the “pay-to-slay” policy.

Before collapsing, Fuld, who was a married father of four, was able to shoot Jabarin after the terrorist stabbed him. Thousands of people attended Fuld’s funeral.

John Kerry Admits to Meeting Iran Leaders During Trump Presidency

Screenshot from Twitter.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is promoting his new memoir, admitted on Wednesday that he has met with the Iranians multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency, although he denied that he was doing so to save the Iran nuclear deal.

In May, prior to Trump’s decision to leave the Iran deal, the Journal reported that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other foreign leaders to salvage the deal. Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he met with Zarif a few times.

“I met with him [Zarif] at a conference in Norway,” Kerry said. “I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.”

Hewitt followed up by asking Kerry if he was coaching Zarif on preserving the Iran deal, which Kerry denied.

“You know, that’s not how it works,” Kerry said. “What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

Kerry added, “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there. They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues. But the administration’s taken a very different tack.”

Kerry also said that he thought Trump should have stayed in the Iran deal, arguing that under the deal “you have China, Russia, these other countries with you in the effort to leverage this different behavior from Iran rather than unilaterally pulling out and isolating yourself and making it much more difficult to sit down with any Iranian.”

Later in the day, Kerry was asked by Fox News’ Dana Perino if he told the Iranians to simply hold out until 2020, when Trump could be voted out of office. Kerry replied with a chuckle, “I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump,” but he said that was in regard to other matters, not the Iran deal.

“When I met with the Iranians, the policies of the United States was still to be in the Iran deal because the president had not decided and not pulled out,” Kerry said. “Secondly, every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that, and we have conversations with people about the state of affairs in the world in order to understand them. We don’t negotiate. We are not involved in interfering with policy.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Kerry allegedly told Hussein Agha, who is described as a “close associate” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that Abbas should not make any concessions to Trump in a peace agreement until 2020, as Kerry argued that Trump would be out of office by then. Kerry also said he was “seriously considering running for president in 2020,” per the Jerusalem Post report. When CBS News asked Kerry if he was going to run for president in 2020, he didn’t rule it out.

United States to Shut Down PLO’s D.C. Office

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they would be shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington, D.C., the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration to crack down on the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said they were making this move because “ the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” Nauert said. “As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move in a statement.

“Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace,” Netanyahu said.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas is furious with the decision and will say “some very undiplomatic things” against Trump at the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority officials told Israel’s Channel 10 that Trump is “an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace.”

“The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the US,” the officials said.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the PLO was initially formed in 1964 with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and Zionism through violent means. The group has committed numerous acts of terror, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. The terrorists murdered a Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a wheelchair during the hijacking.

Even though the PLO renounced terrorism in 1993, former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat incited intifadas against Israelis, as has Abbas, Arafat’s successor.

Britain’s Corbyn Reportedly Met With Hamas Leaders in 2010

Photo from Wikipedia.

A recent report from i24 News states that UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn met with Hamas leaders in 2010, back when he was a largely unknown member of parliament.

According to i24, Corbyn visited Hamas leaders Aziz Dweik, Mahmoud al Ramahi, Muna Saleem Mansour, Naser Abd El-Jawad and Omar Abdel Razeq in Ramallah, as well as Hamas leaders Ahmed Attoun, Khaled Abu-Arafah and Muhammad Totah in East Jerusalem. Corbyn did not meet with a single Jewish Israeli on his trip.

After the trip, Corbyn wrote in The Morning Star, “It is time to bring those Israelis who committed crimes against humanity to account and to end the EU [European Union] Israel Trade Agreement while the occupation and settlement policy continues.”

The trip was funded by Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and Friends of Al-Aqsa. The aforementioned groups provided Corbyn with £927 ($1,500), well above the £660 ($840) gift threshold in which MPs have to report to parliament. But Corbyn never reported the trip to parliament.

The i24 report is the latest in a series of Palestinian terror-related controversies for Corbyn. Photos unearthed by the UK Daily Mail showed Corbyn laying a wreath at a Tunisia ceremony commemorating the 1972 Munich terrorists. An August 21 Daily Mail report showed photos of Corbyn in 2015 speaking to Hamas supporters in Parliament, including one Hamas supporter who said he wished he could conduct a suicide bombing for “Palestine.”

Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian praised Corbyn and the Labour Party for being “principled” on their watered-down anti-Semitism rules. Hamas said they “Salute Jeremy Corbyn’s supportive positions to the Palestinians.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Visits Family of Terror Victim. PA Calls His Visit ‘Provocative’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, visited the family of 31-year-old Yotam Ovadia, who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist on July 26. The Palestinian Authority (PA) denounced Friedman’s act of sympathy as “provocative.”

The PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it condemns “the provocative visits by the ambassador of the Trump administration to Tel Aviv to settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

Friedman responded in a tweet:

 

 

 

Friedman visited Adam (Geva Binyamin) outside Jerusalem on July 30 during the Ovadia family’s weeklong Shiva to pay his condolences.

“I was heartbroken to see the tragic impact of the murder of Yotam Ovadia — a young mother left alone to care for two small children, parents grieving for their only son,” Friedman said when he left the Ovadia home. “Words are insufficient to describe the evil and barbarity of the terrorist act.”

Ovadia was stabbed to death by 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist Mohammad Tareq Yousef, who also injured two other Israelis before being shot to death by one of his victims. The other two Israelis have survived their injuries.

“Shocked to hear of the brutal terror attack in Adam that left 31 year-old Yotam Ovadia dead and two others injured,” Friedman tweeted at the time. “My heartfelt prayers for all the families. All life is sacred, but premeditated murder cries out for condemnation. Not hearing it from Palestinian leadership.”

Friedman’s predecessor, Daniel Shapiro, visited the families of those murdered by Palestinian terrorists on a couple of occasions.

Israel, Australia Cut Payments to Palestinian Authority

Alaa Badarneh/Pool via Reuters

Israel and Australia are joining the United States in cutting payments to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the body’s financial incentives for Palestinians to commit acts of terror against Israelis.

The Knesset passed a bipartisan bill by a margin of 87-15 that would deduct each shekel used by the PA to pay Palestinian terrorists and their families to a fund allocated toward providing aid for victims of terror attacks.

“We must stop the economic inventive the Palestinian Authority provides to terrorists, an incentive that encourages others to commit terror,” Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, a co-sponsor of the law, said. “Every Palestinian youth will understand it doesn’t pay to choose the path of terror.”

Similarly, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on July 2 that Australia would cease its funding to the PA altogether.

“I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to (fund) activities that Australia would never support,” Bishop said in a statement. “Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values and undermines the prospect.”

In response, PA spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the Israeli law a “declaration of war against the Palestinian people” that would result in “serious repercussions.”

According to the Times of Israel, the PA gave $198 million the families of terrorists in 2017 as well as $160 million to terrorists serving in prison in the same year.

On March 23, President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law, which ceases funding to the PA until ends its financial support of terrorism.

Dem Senate Candidate Calls Jerusalem Move An ‘Incitement to Violence’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Texas Senate Democratic candidate Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke called the moving of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an “incitement to violence” at a June 24 campaign event.

Video of the event shows that a woman identifying herself as a Muslim asking O’Rourke where he stood on the move; she called it “arguably one of the worst humanitarian disasters our world faces today.”

O’Rourke responded by calling the move “unnecessarily provocative.”

“Everyone who knows anything about the Middle East, who knows the status of Jerusalem and East Israel, the status of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel knew there were going to be those that would suffer as a result, as they predictably have,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke added that the move hasn’t done anything to help achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and claimed that as an ally to both, the U.S. can leverage Israel into ending West Bank settlements.

“It’s going to be up to those two powers to produce the peace, but we can do a better job and we can certainly stop providing incentives and incitement to violence, which I think that move did,” O’Rourke said.

Since the embassy move happened, there have been riots at the Israel-Gaza border that have resulted in Palestinian deaths – several of whom were terrorists – although since then the size of the riots has declined.

The latest poll shows O’Rourke trailing incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by 10 points.

H/T: Free Beacon

 

PA Continuing Payments to Terrorists Despite Taylor Force Act

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a reception ceremony for Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is reportedly continuing their practice of funneling money to terrorists and their families despite the recent passage of the Taylor Force Act, which states that the United States will cut off funding to the PA if they continue to pay terrorists.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported that shortly after the Taylor Force Act’s passage, a PA spokesman declared that they would be defying the law, stating, “In the eyes of our people, our nation, and our cause, the martyrs and prisoners are sacred symbols of freedom, struggle, protecting human dignity, and resistance to submission and humiliation. They constitute a right that is guaranteed to all people, and they cannot be bought and sold for all the money in the world.”

Furthermore, according to PMW, almost 8% of the PA’s 2018 budget uses money toward their fund to pay terrorists and their families.

Legislators in Israel and the United States are irate that the PA’s policy is still ongoing, with Knesset Member Oren Forer telling the Washington Free Beacon that any peace deal reached between Israel and the PA should ensure that such payments end.

“It is impossible that our so-called peace partners are paying and incentivizing murder, while pretending to talk peace,” Forer said.

The Taylor Force Act was signed into law on Mar. 23 as part of an omnibus spending bill. It was named after a U.S. veteran who was murdered at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist in March 2016. The terrorist, 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, is being paid $400 a month by the PA.

The PA paid Palestinian terrorists and their families $347 million overall in 2017. The PA received $357 million from the U.S. in 2016.

Taylor Force Act Signed Into Law As Part of Spending Bill

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Taylor Force Act was signed into law on Mar. 23, as it was included in the $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the government.

President Trump officially signed the spending bill in a signing ceremony, stating that while he had multiple reservations about the overall bill, it needed to be signed for the defense spending.

When the bill passed the Senate on Mar. 22, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the authors of the Taylor Force Act, hailed the law as “one of the most significant pieces of legislation I’ve been involved with.”

“The powerful message from the Force family, along with effort from the pro-Israel community led by Sander Gerber, have made this possible,” Graham said.

The Taylor Force Act, named after the United States veteran who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in March 2016, ends funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until they stop providing financial incentives for Palestinian to commit acts of terror against Jews.

“The Taylor Force Act was made possible in part due to the work of two of the IAC’s biggest supporters — Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson – representing both sides of the aisle to promote this important legislation,” the Israeli-American Coalition (IAC) for Action said in a statement. “Despite their political differences on some other issues, Mr. Saban and Mr. Adelson worked hand-in-hand to promote broad bipartisan support for this bill and prevent American taxpayer dollars from continuing to subsidize terror.”

Additionally, AIPAC lauded the bill for giving $3.1 billion to Israel for security assistance, $705.8 million for “missile defense cooperation” between Israel and the U.S. and $47.5 million to help Israel fight against Hamas’ use of tunnels for terror.

As the Journal has previously reported, the PA provided $347 million to Palestinian terrorists and their families in 2017, giving them well beyond what the average Palestinian earns per month if they murder Jews. The U.S. gave the PA $357 million in 2016.

U.S. Media Largely Ignored Abbas’ ‘Son of a Dog’ Slur Toward U.S. Ambassador

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in hot water for calling United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog” over the weekend, yet it didn’t really receive much coverage from U.S. media outlets.

In their weekly talking points brief, The Focus Project – an organization that features the consensus view of various Jewish organizations on matter the of Israel and anti-Semitism – noted the lack of attention on Abbas’ comments in U.S. media.

“Major news outlets in the U.S., such as the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN ignored this story entirely or buried it by carrying syndicated wire reports instead of doing original reporting,” The Focus Project wrote. “Statistics show they are obsessed with a narrative where Israel is the oppressor and Palestinians are passive victims.”

The links provided in the aforementioned statement show nothing from CNN about Abbas’ comments; the New York Times and Washington Post covered Abbas’ by running a report from Reuters and the Associated Press (AP), respectively. ABC News also relied on the AP’s wire service to report on the matter and Yahoo News used a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The Journal searched the sites of NBC News, CBS News and Fox News and found nothing on Abbas’ comments.

This would certainly not be the first time that the U.S. media has been accused of having an anti-Israel bias, as Newsbusters has documented how the media once falsely reported that Pope Francis called Abbas “the angel of peace” and didn’t give much coverage on Abbas declaring in 2011 that he would never recognize a Jewish state and that Israel was committing “ethnic cleansing.”

Abbas’ latest comments stemmed from him being angry that Friedman claimed they were building settlements on land that belonged to Israel, prompting the PA president to exclaim, “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!” Abbas is now attempting to walk back that comment, as one of his advisors is now saying that “dogs are pets in the Arab world, and they are generally viewed positively.”

Abbas Calls U.S. Ambassador to Israel a ‘Son of a Dog’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas railed against United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman as a “son of a dog” in a Mar. 19 speech to PA leadership.

Abbas was irked that Friedman is a staunch supporter of the Israelis building settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“The ambassador, David Friedman, said they’re building on their own land,” Abbas said. “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!”

Friedman pushed back against Abbas and denounced the PA president’s remarks as anti-Semitic.

“Anti-Semitism or political discourse?” Friedman said in a speech at Jerusalem. “Not for me to judge, I will leave that up to you.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert also slammed Abbas’ comments as “outrageous and unhelpful.”

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to focus its efforts on improving the lives of the Palestinian people and advancing the cause of peace,” Nauert said. “The administration remains fully committed to those goals.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Abbas’ “son of a dog” remark showed that he was becoming unhinged:

This is the latest example of Abbas bitterly lashing out with various snipes toward the Trump administration for their recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Back in December, Abbas refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence on his Middle East trip and has repeatedly said that the PA will no longer accept a peace deal brokered by the U.S.

Before Abbas made his “son of a dog” comments, Friedman ripped into Abbas for failing to condemn the murders of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of Palestinian terrorists:

Abbas Criticizes US and Israel in UN speech; Haley Fires Back

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the United Nations on Feb. 20 criticizing the United States and Israel on hampering peace negotiations.

Abbas railed against the Trump administration’s actions on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“In a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision which was rejected by the international community to remove the issue of Jerusalem off the table without any reason,” Abbas said.

The PA president added, “This administration has not clarified its position. Is it a two-state solution, or the one-state solution?”

Abbas then claimed that the Palestinians have a historical connection to Israeli land.

“We are descendants of the Canaanites that lived in Palestine 5,000 years ago, and have continuously remained there to this day,” Abbas said.

Abbas also went after Israel for being a “permanent settlement colonization.”

“We are working for the occupation, we are employees for the occupation, and we say that Israel must be held to its obligations as an occupying power,” Abbas said.

Abbas advocated for Palestine to have full member status at the U.N. and for a two-state solution mediated by a “multilateral international mechanism.”

Abbas walked out of the room when he was finished speaking, prompting Haley to remark to the PA president, “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”

“The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley added. “You don’t have to like that decision. You don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this: that decision will not change.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon criticized Abbas for inspiring “a culture of hate in Palestinian society.”

“When we extend a hand, Abbas extends a fist,” Danon said.

Report: Trump Admin, PA Haven’t Talked In Over a Month

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Relations between the Trump administration and Palestinian Authority (PA) have chilled to the point where they haven’t spoken to each other in over a month.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the chief negotiators in the Israel-Palestine conflict – Jared Kushner and Jonathan Greenblatt – haven’t had any sort of dialogue with the PA since Dec. 6, when President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, although there have been some meetings with Palestinians that have been kept under wraps.

“They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk,” a top White House official told the Jerusalem Post. “It doesn’t bode well for what we’re trying to create if there’s no freedom of speech among the Palestinians. So that troubles me greatly, and we’re trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

Since Trump’s Jerusalem move, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has become increasingly unhinged and hostile toward the United States. He recently gave a speech in which he “he deployed anti-Semitic tropes, undercut the Jewish connection to Israel, and blamed everyone from Oliver Cromwell to Napoleon to Winston Churchill for Israel’s creation” and “repeatedly cursed President Donald Trump (“may your house fall into ruin”),” according to The Atlantic.

Abbas has also stated that the PA won’t accept any peace agreement mediated by United States and wants Europe to have greater involvement in such talks. On Tuesday, Abbas gave a speech at the European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels and called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, and the EU gave him his support.

Despite all this, the Trump administration remains undeterred in their attempts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as the White House official told the Post they will eventually put forward a “plan that we think is appropriate, reasonable, fair for both sides, in particular for the Palestinians to have a brighter future.”

“It’s going to be up to the parties to make their decisions if they can come to terms on a deal,” the official said.

Abbas Fails His People — Again

When Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas described Israel as a “colonialist project that is not connected to Judaism” — as he did in a speech last week that was littered with anti-Semitic overtones — the natural reaction from the pro-Israel community was to condemn the lies and defend the truth.

Abbas’ libelous speech, in fact, was condemned across the political spectrum. Even J Street released a statement saying there was “no excuse for calling into question either the Jewish connection to, or Palestinian recognition of, the state of Israel — or for language and proposals that are justifiably earning widespread condemnation.”

Moderate commentator Ben-Dror Yemini on Ynetnews characterized the speech as “More hallucinations. More illusions. More rejectionism” — adding that Abbas’ real problem is not with the creation of Israel in 1948 or the expansion of the state after 1967 but the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that first supported the Jews’ right to a national home.

The reason Abbas is obsessed with the 1917 recognition of Jewish sovereign rights is that it undermines his faux narrative that Israel is a colonialist state rooted in European guilt after the Holocaust. As long as he can position the Jewish state as an artificial project that punished Palestinian Arabs, he can claim the mantle of victimhood and continue his diplomatic war against the legitimacy of Israel.

This addiction to victimhood is also crucial to his retention of power. Put yourself in Abbas’ shoes. His people live in misery while, next door, the hated Jewish state thrives. Doubling down on victimhood means he can blame every Palestinian hardship on Israel.

It also justifies saying no to every peace proposal, as Palestinian leaders have done for decades. After all, if Israel is the result of Jews stealing Arab land, what is there to negotiate? There is only one thing a thief must do, and that is return the stolen goods in full — and maybe even throw in a penalty for emotional damages.

If Palestinian leaders ever conceded the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the Holy Land, it would explode the edifice of lies they have told their people. It would force them to acknowledge that Jews also have sovereign rights, which would force them to accept compromises. It would mean they’d have to admit that their problem with Israel is not with the settlements that came after 1967 but the settlements that came after 1917. It would mean they’d have to accept at least some responsibility for the miserable state of their failed society.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other.

The minute Abbas himself concedes the legitimacy of the Jewish state, an avalanche of pressure would descend upon him. All of a sudden, he would have to look at the hated Zionist state as a partner rather than a thief and start caring for the welfare of his people. All of a sudden, he’d have to actually produce results.

Compare that to the status quo. By sticking to his narrative of exclusive victimhood at the expense of Jewish oppression, Abbas is celebrated around the world. He continues to cash in on “humanitarian” aid that fills his coffers and that of his cronies; he continues his diplomatic and legal war against Israel at the United Nations and international criminal courts; and, above all, he’s off the hook to make any compromises for peace.

For a corrupt liar who has contempt for Zionism, this status quo is, well, heaven on earth.

There is, of course, one complication in this whole picture — the Palestinian people. The day they realize they have been lied to for so long by their own leaders is the day those leaders will abandon their villas in Ramallah and hop on their private jets to any country that will take them.

That day may come sooner than they think.

According to a poll conducted in the summer of 2016 by the reputable Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published in Al Monitor, 65 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip want Abbas to resign.

Among the reasons cited, journalist Ahmed Labed from Gaza City told Al Monitor: “President Abbas, who has been in power for 11 years, has been illegitimately occupying the presidential office. His mandate expired in January 2009. Moreover, throughout the period of his presidency, Abbas hasn’t accomplished any noteworthy achievement for the Palestinians.”

His major “accomplishment” has been to malign and undermine the Jewish state and instill hatred in his people for their Jewish neighbors, all while pretending to be a “moderate” to the world.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other, especially when that party has an interest in maintaining that lie.

Israel has made its share of mistakes. Its biggest, perhaps, is that it never had a long-term strategy for handling the territories captured in 1967, especially in Judea and Samaria. This has allowed Palestinian leaders to place all the blame for the absence of peace on the growth of Jewish communities in these territories.

Never mind that Palestinian leaders have rejected every peace offer made by Israel without ever making a counteroffer. As bad as those rejections have been for Israel, they’ve been even worse for the Palestinians.

How Much Did the PA Pay Terrorists Last Year? Here Are the Numbers.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a press statement with French President (unseen) after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Mori/Pool

It has long been known that the Palestinian Authority (PA) funnels money to terrorists and their families as a financial incentive for terrorism, and now the exact figures for 2017 are known thanks to a report from Israel’s Defense Ministry.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Defense Ministry found that the PA paid terrorists and their families over $347 million in 2017. The minimum they provide is $580 per month for a terrorist sentenced to 3-5 years in prison. That number increases to $2,900 if a terrorist is sentenced to 20-35 years in prison. A terrorist earns extra money if they are married with children and if they reside in Israel.

By comparison, the average Israeli citizen earns $2,700 per month and the average Palestinian earns $580 per months, thereby showing that the PA is dangling money to entice Palestinians into committing acts of terror against Jews.

“The minute the amount of the payment is decided according to the severity of the crime and the length of the sentence – in other words, whoever murders and is sentenced to life in prison gets much more – that is funding terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “There is nothing that better illustrates the PA’s support for terrorism. We must stop this.”

To combat the PA’s funding of terrorism, Israel’s Defense Ministry is proposing a bill that would allow ministers to deduct tax revenue Israel provides to the PA based on how much the PA paid terrorists.

Read the full report here.

The official figures provided by the Defense Ministry isn’t too far off from The Algemeiner’s estimation that the PA paid $355 million to terrorists in 2017.

In December, the House of Representatives passed the Taylor Force Act, which states that the U.S. will cease funding the PA so long as they continue to provide funding to terrorists. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and President Trump will likely sign it if it reaches his desk.

Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmed recently declared that the PA would continue to fund terrorists and their families in spite of the threat of the U.S. threats of ending funding to the PA.

Fatah Central Committee Member: PA Will Continue to Fund Terrorists

Screenshot from Twitter.

A Fatah Central Committee member reiterated on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will continue its policy of funding terrorists despite President Trump’s threat to end funding to the PA.

The committee member, Azzam Al-Ahmad, said the following:

Al-Ahmad’s declaration comes after Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he would end funding to the PA if they refused to engage in the peace process:

According to Palestinian Media Watch, Al-Ahmad has served on the Fatah Central Committee since 2009. Back in October, Al-Ahmad called the Balfour Declaration “a historical mistake.”

“The Palestinian people, which is standing firm in the occupied homeland and outside of it, expects you to stand alongside it in its ongoing struggle – since the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) from British Foreign Secretary [Arthur Balfour] 100 years ago – for its freedom and the achievement of its national rights like the rest of the peoples of the world,” said Al-Ahmad. “We hope that Britain will correct its historical mistake against our people.”

Al-Ahmad has also called for violence against Israel in October.

“It is the Palestinian people’s right to wage the struggle against the occupation using all the methods, but there should be a consensus on its form,” said Al-Ahmad. “We have not eliminated any method from our considerations, nor from our principles since the [Fatah] Launch [in 1965] until today: Popular resistance, armed struggle, and negotiations. If violence breaks out again, Israel will be responsible for it.”

The PA paid terrorists and their families $355 million, providing a major financial incentive for Palestinians to commit acts of violence against Jews. At the beginning of December, the House of Representatives passed the Taylor Force Act, which states that funding to the PA will end if they continue to fund terrorists. The White House has signaled that the president will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Trump Signals He’ll End Aid to Palestinians If They Don’t Agree to Peace Talks

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an address from the White House in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Picture

President Trump signaled in a tweet on Tuesday the United States could be ending its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their refusal to cooperate in peace talks.

After tweeting that the U.S. would cease to provide aid to Pakistan for their ties to terrorism, Trump announced that the PA could be next on the chopping block.

“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted. “They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.”

Given that the Palestinians are refusing to engage in peace talks, Trump asked, “why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley also told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York City that funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) could be cut as well.

“The president has basically said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiation table,” said Haley. “We’re trying to move for a peace process but if that doesn’t happen the president is not going to continue to fund that situation.”

Trump and Haley’s statements come after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinians would reject any peace offers from the U.S. and called for Europe to play a larger role in mediating Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Abbas also refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence.

According to the Times of Israel, in 2016 the U.S. provided the PA with over $357 million in aid and over $355 million to the UNRWA.

The PA currently provides financial incentives for Palestinians to commit acts of terrorism against Jews, as they funneled $355 million to terrorists and their families in 2017. Abbas himself has rejected prior peace deals and incited intifadas against Israelis.

According to U.N. Watch, the UNRWA teachers incite “Jihadist terrorism and antisemitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler” to Facebook.

 

Poll: 70% of Palestinians Think Abbas Should Step Down

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new poll has found that the vast majority of Palestinians think that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should resign from his position.

According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, 70% of Palestinians want Abbas to step down while only 26% want him to stay on. Of the two Palestinian regions, 64% of Palestinians in the West Bank want Abbas to resign as do 80% in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas.

Abbas’ overall approval rating is at 31% positive and 66% negative. His policies are not viewed in a positive light by the Palestinians, as 61% don’t think they can criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) “without fear” and 77% view the PA as corrupt. Only 12% view the conditions of the West Bank as “positive.”

The 70% number is an increase from 67% three months, suggesting that Abbas’ electoral prospects in an election following a reconciliation government are dwindling. The poll found that in a three-way race between Abbas, terrorist Marwan Barghouti and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Abbas would get trounced, as 41% would support Barghouti and 36% would support Haniyeh while Abbas would only receive 18% support.

The full poll results can be read here.

The poll numbers have come amidst Abbas facing pressure from Jordan and Egypt to turn down his rhetoric against the United States following President Trump’s Jerusalem move:

Abbas is refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in light of Trump’s move.

Abbas has ruled the West Bank with an iron fist. He was elected as the PA president in January 2005, he has prevented elections from being held since then in order to hold onto power. Abbas’ record includes jailing journalists and political opponents, even going as far as torturing them.

Taylor Force Act Easily Passes House

Photo from Facebook.

The Taylor Force Act unanimously passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, which stipulates that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would lose United States funding if it continues paying the families of terrorists.

The bill, which is named after an American who was murdered by a Palestinian in 2016 and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, states that there are exemptions for wastewater projects, child vaccine programs, East Jerusalem hospitals and has a six-year sunset clause. It was first introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO).

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) lauded the bill after its unanimous passage in the House.

“If you finance or reward terrorism, you don’t deserve a penny from the United States,” Ryan said in a statement. “The Palestinian Authority should be forced to choose between its despicable practice of paying terrorists’ salaries and receiving foreign aid funded by the American taxpayer. And until that time comes, no government that supports the murder of innocent civilians can claim to be a serious partner for peace.”

Ryan later added, “In Taylor’s memory, I look forward to the Senate passing this legislation so we can send it to the president’s desk.”

The bill is expected to pass the Senate. President Trump has not specifically stated that he would sign it, however it has been reported that he “supports its principal objective.”

Under what has been dubbed as the PA’s “pay to slay” policy, terrorists who attack Jews receive $400 per month from the PA; if they murder a Jew they receive $3,400 per month, according to JNS.org’s Stephen Flatow. Each of those aforementioned figures are increased in accordance to the length of the terrorist’s sentence. The families of dead terrorists receive $100 per month if the terrorist isn’t married; a dead terrorist’s widow receives $250 month. By contrast, the average Palestinian earns $150 per month, thereby creating a financial incentive for Palestinians to commit acts of terror.

In total, the PA has paid terrorists and their families $355 million in 2017.

The family of Force’s murderer, 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, currently receives $400 a month from the PA, which ignited the political will for the Taylor Force Act. In 2016, the U.S. provided $357 million in aid to the PA.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted out their gratitude to the House for passing the bill:

Others argue that the exemptions weaken the original intent of the bill to the point where it would be ineffective if signed into law.

The Taylor Force Act Advances the Path to Peace

Photo from Facebook.

Today, a Palestinian kindergartener living in Ramallah is surrounded by messages that demonize and dehumanize Israelis, while glorifying violence against them. Leaving their house in the morning, this child sees billboards that pay tribute to suicide bombers. Arriving at school he or she will read textbooks that encourage the murder of Jews. In media and mosques, Palestinian leaders spew invective, describing Jews as “satans” and calling Israel a “cancerous tumor that needs to be eliminated.”

This is not a fertile environment from which the conditions for peace emerge. Seeds of peace are watered by tolerance and mutual understanding, when leaders communicate to their people the need to give up old hatreds and accept paths of compromise. Yet, instead of raising the next generation of Palestinian children to embrace peace, the official institutions of the Palestinian Authority (PA) continue to lay the ground for further conflict and hatred.

The PA will devote some $344 million of its 2017 budget—which amounts to half of its foreign development assistance—to financially reward terrorists and their families. The budget allotment for rewarding violent acts is more than $100 million greater than the amount that the PA spends on welfare for Palestinians living under the poverty line. The welfare package for families of terrorists, incidentally, is higher than the welfare paid to impoverished Palestinian households, while the stipend for Palestinians held in Israel for violent acts is over four times the average salary in the West Bank. The priorities of the PA are laid bare by these discrepancies, and these priorities are clearly not peace.

The United States has a number of levers at its disposal to put an end to these practices. American taxpayers provide funding that is designed to support the development of Palestinian institutions—around $300-$500 million each year. Since its establishment in 1994, the Palestinian Authority has received more than $5 billion in bilateral economic and non-lethal security assistance from the United States, including assistance for the PA’s security forces and criminal justice system.

In order to make sure these funds are used for their intended purpose, the U.S. Congress is now considering the Taylor Force Act, which is named after an American citizen and Army veteran murdered by a terrorist while on vacation in Israel. This necessary piece of legislation advances the prospects for peace by conditioning continued U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority on the PA ending its policy of financially rewarding terrorists and their families. This would prevent hundreds of millions of dollars from incentivizing terror, so that these funds can be used towards the necessities of institutional development.

This summer, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action, where I serve as Chairman, initiated a wide-ranging advocacy campaign to bring together a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in support of this legislation. Israeli-Americans know firsthand—from our personal experience, through our friends and families who live in Israel, and through our consumption of Hebrew-language news—why ending this practice is so important for peace. Yet, as taxpayers in the United States, we continue to fund it.

In unprecedented ways, the IAC for Action’s nationwide networks of grassroots activists and some of the most prominent and influential Israeli-Americans and Jewish-Americans in our community have been engaged with their elected officials in support of the legislation.

As a result of our work, the bipartisan group of lawmakers publicly supporting the Taylor Force Act—originally introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—has grown significantly. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) have introduced their own version of the bill, which will be marked up in the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday and is expected to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Like the Israeli-American community, Congress understands that opposition to a rewards scheme for acts of terror by the PA is not a question of right or left, or Democrat or Republican. It is a question of right and wrong, of peace and terror. America can help move Israelis and Palestinians forward on the difficult path to peace by ending this subsidy for terror.

Saudi Arabia to Abbas: Take Trump’s Peace Plan or Resign

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 7, 2017. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Saudi Arabia has issued an ultimatum to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas: take up the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine peace plan or step down from your position.

The Times of Israel reports that Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman brought Abbas in for a meeting and told him to “accept Trump’s peace plan or quit” as well as to rebuff any Iranian efforts to influence the PA.

The Saudi monarchy also reportedly demanded any cooperation between members of Fatah and Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy terror group, cease immediately.

However, a Palestinian Authority official pushed back on the notion that Saudi Arabia issued any sort of threat toward Abbas.

“The talk was about coordination, and it focused on three points,” the official told Haaretz. “One, supporting reconciliation and the president’s position on the arms issue; two, economic assistance; and three, that any diplomatic and regional settlement will be based on the Arab peace initiative, without any change.”

Political analyst Mazen Safi told the Jerusalem Post that the Saudis’ meeting with Abbas was meant to establish himself as “a power broker” in light of the Gulf Kingdom’s escalating tensions with Iran.

“Support from Arab countries is crucial and Abbas’ trip reinforces the need to assist the Palestinians against all obstacles,” said Safi. “Palestinian reconciliation requires the efforts of all Arab countries—and not just the Palestinians—since it will positively affect the region.”

The Trump peace plan that Salman referred to reportedly features some type of two-state solution that attempts to make all parties happy.

“For Israel, those could include limiting settlement construction to current blocs without taking new land, recommitting to a two-state solution and redesignating a small part of the West Bank to give Palestinians more control,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports. “The Palestinians could be asked to resume full security cooperation with Israel, hold off seeking further international recognition and end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorist attacks.”

Saudi Arabia has long provided aid to the PA under the pretext that the PA provides political support to the Gulf Kingdom.

IDF Won’t Apologize for Killing Terrorists in Hamas Tunnel Blast

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will not apologize for killing terrorists while blowing up a Hamas tunnel on Monday.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the explosion, which killed seven terrorists, wounded 12 others and left five terrorists missing wasn’t meant to harm any Palestinian. Education Minister Naftali Bennett used Manelis’ statement to claim that the IDF was apologizing for killing terrorists.

“These were terrorists involved in digging an attack tunnel inside Israeli territory with which they intended to kill Israeli women and children,” Bennett tweeted.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman fired back on Twitter, writing that “comments like this seriously damage the security of Israel and the IDF.” Yesh Atid MK Elaza Stern, a former IDF general, issued a statement denouncing Bennett’s comments and stating that the IDF in no way apologized for the killing of terrorists.

“It is a shame that government ministers, instead of backing the IDF after an incident like this, chose once again to use it to score political points at the army’s expense,” said Stern.

Two of the terrorists killed in the tunnel explosion were senior commanders for the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has responded to the tunnel explosion by accusing Israel of using poison gas to kill the terrorist, who they referred to as “martyrs.”

“We call on all of the international organizations to stop these materials that the Israeli occupation is using against our unarmed people,” PA Health Ministry Spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said to the PA’s news outlet.

Hamas has called the explosion “a dangerous escalation against our people” and Iran referred to Israel as the “blood-sucking Zionist regime” in response to the explosion.

Palestinian Authority Colombia mission quotes Arafat in calling for the destruction of Israel

Palestinian students stand in front of a mural depicting late Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in Gaza City October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

The Palestinian Authority mission in Colombia called for the destruction of Israel in a tweet on Thursday that has been deleted.

The tweet, written in Spanish, is a quote from Yasser Arafat that states, “Our goal is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediations…. We don’t want peace. We want WAR and victory.”

Here is a screenshot of the tweet:

Israel’s Foreign Ministry denounced the tweet, describing Arafat’s legacy as “death, hatred and disgust.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on it as well:

The Palestinian Authority has yet to offer any sort of statement in light of the deleted tweet. The Israeli ambassador to Colombia alerted law enforcement in the area about the tweet.

The tweet comes as Hamas, an organization whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews, could potentially join the Palestinian Authority as part of a unity government. Israel has listed a set of conditions that Hamas must abide by in order for it to negotiate with such a unity government, but Hamas has rejected those conditions.

Yasser Arafat is considered to be “the Father of Modern Terrorism”, as his record includes orchestrating the Achille Lauro bombing in 1985, waging intifadas against Israel and introducing the idea of using commercial airplanes as a weapon, which al-Qaeda later used in the 9/11 terror attacks. Arafat also declared in 1996, “We will not bend or fail until the blood of every last Jew from the youngest child to the oldest elder is spilled to redeem our land!”