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Israel News

Daily Alert

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Stiff Iran Sanctions

on May 29, 2017
(New York Times) Matt Flegenheimer and David E. Sanger - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved by 18 to 3 on Thursday the most sweeping sanctions against Iran since the 2015 nuclear deal. The committee linked the penalties to Iran's continued support for terrorism and its human rights violations, among other concerns. The Trump administration has supported new sanctions against Iran, and the measure could receive a full Senate vote as early as next month. Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, the committee's top Democrat, argued that the new legislation remained essential. "This bill is surgical," he said, noting it had been designed to avoid undermining the 2015 agreement. "Just because they entered into a nuclear agreement, we're not going to permit them to continue to support terrorism."

Senate Committee Approves Comprehensive Bill to Hold Iran Accountable

on May 29, 2017
(Senate Foreign Relations Committee) The bipartisan legislation, now with 48 cosponsors, would expand sanctions for Iranian ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, transfers of conventional weapons to or from Iran, and human rights violations. Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said, "We can no longer allow the nuclear agreement with Iran to dictate U.S. policy throughout the Middle East....Iran's rogue behavior has only escalated since implementation of the agreement, and this...will give the Trump administration additional tools for holding Tehran accountable. It also sends an important signal that the U.S. will no longer look the other way in the face of continued Iranian aggression."

ISIS Gunmen Murder 28 Coptic Christian Pilgrims in Egypt

on May 29, 2017
(New York Times) Declan Walsh and Nour Youssef - At least seven gunmen claiming to be security officers waved down buses filled with Christian pilgrims on Friday in western Egypt and ordered the passengers to get out. When the men refused to recite the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith, the gunmen opened fire. At least 28 people were killed, several with a single shot to the head. Several of the victims were children. In reprisal, Egyptian fighter jets carried out airstrikes on several militant camps inside Libya.

Islamic State in Libya Has Retreated to the Desert

on May 29, 2017
(Economist-UK) Like their comrades in Iraq and Syria, the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) in Libya were in retreat earlier this year, pushed out of Sirte, their coastal stronghold, in December and hit hard by American bombers in January. But although the jihadists are down in Libya, they are not out. And they may have international reach. Many of the fighters have regrouped in the desert valleys and hills southeast of Tripoli. Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide-bomber, was in Libya recently and his brother and father were arrested in Tripoli. There are thought to be 500 IS fighters still operating in Libya and perhaps 3,000 jihadists of all types.

Manchester Bomber's Brother Was "Plotting Attack on UN Envoy in Libya"

on May 29, 2017
(Telegraph-UK) Josie Ensor - Hashim Abedi, 20, the brother of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi, was a member of a jihadist cell planning an attack on the UN's special envoy to Libya. Cell members were in the late stages of building an explosive device when their plot to target Martin Kobler in Tripoli earlier this year was interrupted.

Some of Manchester Bomber's Network Potentially Still At Large

on May 29, 2017
(Reuters) Phil Noble - Members of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi's network are still potentially at large, British Interior Minister Amber Rudd said on Sunday, after the terrorism threat level was lowered because of significant progress in the investigation. Rudd said the security services were looking at 500 different potential plots, involving 3,000 people as a "top list," with a further 20,000 beneath that.

U.S. Shifts Strategy in Fight Against ISIS

on May 29, 2017
(Wall Street Journal) Tamer El-Ghobashy and Ghassan Adnan - The U.S. has switched to "annihilation tactics" against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, surrounding fighters instead of moving them from one spot to another, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We're not going to allow them to do so. We're going to stop them there."

Report - Trump Told Abbas: "You Deceived Me in Washington"

on May 29, 2017
(Jerusalem Post) Herb Keinon - Israel's Channel 2 reported that during the recent meeting in Bethlehem between President Trump and PA President Abbas, Trump reportedly screamed at Abbas, "You deceived me in Washington," referring to the meeting they had earlier in the month. Trump said, "You spoke to me about peace, but the Israelis showed me that you personally have a hand in incitement."

Palestinian Security Prisoners End Hunger Strike

on May 29, 2017
(Jerusalem Post) Eliyahu Kamisher - Palestinian security prisoners ended a 40-day hunger strike on Saturday when it was agreed that the Palestinian Authority would finance the resumption of a second monthly visit by the prisoners' families. Transportation for two monthly family visits per prisoner previously was paid for by the Red Cross, which cut funding for the second visit a year ago amid budgetary concerns. While PA officials are claiming victory, the Israel Prisons Service said that none of the prisoners' demands were met apart from the visitations.

Abbas Intervened to End Prisoners' Hunger Strike

on May 29, 2017
(Ynet News) Elior Levy - PA President Abbas intervened directly in order to bring the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike to a close, out of fear of significant provocations and demonstrations. The beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan was a significant motivator, given that prisoners would no longer be able to drink, which they had been doing. Israel had no objection to the PA financing one of the two family visits to prisoners per month since international law requires Israel to allow two such visits per month.

Norway Demands PA Return Funds for Women's Center Named after Terrorist

on May 29, 2017
(Times of Israel) Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende on Friday condemned the Palestinian Authority for naming a women's center in the West Bank town of Burqa, that his country partially funded, after female terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre when Fatah terrorists hijacked a bus and killed 38 Israeli civilians including 13 children. "The glorification of terrorist attacks is completely unacceptable, and I deplore this decision in the strongest possible terms. Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way. We will not accept the use of Norwegian aid funding for such purposes," Brende said. "We have asked for the logo of the Norwegian representation office to be removed from the building immediately, and for the funding that has been allocated to the center to be repaid....We will not enter into any new agreements with either the Palestinian Election Commission or UN Women in Palestinian areas until satisfactory procedures are in place to ensure that nothing of this nature happens again." Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said, "Norway took the right step - a tough line against memorializing terrorists is an integral part of the international effort to eliminate terror. We recommend that the international community take thorough steps to check where the money it invests in the PA is going."

Palestinian Security Personnel Involved in Attack on Israeli Soldiers

on May 29, 2017
(Ha'aretz) Gili Cohen - A terror cell that shot at Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Tulkarem in the West Bank in April included Palestinian security personnel, the Israel Security Agency said Sunday. One of them was released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange. The cell undertook seven attacks before they were arrested and planned to buy heavy arms for additional attacks.

What Makes Arab Leaders Pragmatic

on May 29, 2017
(Ha'aretz) Moshe Arens - The rulers of Egypt and Jordan, of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, feel threatened by Iran. Their support for the Palestinian cause tends to take a back seat to those measures that need to be taken to assure their survival - which includes a search for potential allies and Israel is seen as such an ally. Does this make these rulers more pragmatic or more moderate? Not really. They are simply giving their most immediate interest - their survival - precedence. How about the "pragmatic" Arab rulers assisting in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Sounds good at first sight, but not very likely. There are Palestinians, like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who have come to realize that Palestinian terrorism has only damaged the Palestinian cause. But the rejection of terrorism has yet to become part of the education of young Palestinians. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Sinai Bedouin Accuse Hamas of Collaborating with ISIS

on May 29, 2017
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Yoni Ben Menachem - Tensions between the Sinai Bedouin and the Islamic State in Sinai escalated after ISIS kidnapped four Bedouin on May 22, beheaded them, and sent their bodies back to Bedouin territory. The Tarabin tribe, the largest tribe in Sinai, has joined with the Egyptian army, which provided it with weapons, and has united with other Bedouin tribes against ISIS in the "Tribal Union of Sinai." On May 24, the Tribal Union accused Hamas of being an ally to ISIS in Sinai, allowing ISIS members to enter Gaza through the tunnels and supplying them with weapons, training, medical care, and shelter in Gaza. The connection of the Bedouin tribes to the Egyptian army has disrupted ISIS plans to expand beyond northern Sinai. The balance of power is now more favorable for the Egyptian army, since the Bedouin tribes know the area much better than ISIS. The Bedouin are well aware of all the smuggling routes into Gaza and can cut off the supply of food, fuel, and weapons. Therefore, Hamas may try to appease the Sinai Bedouin and lower the profile of Hamas-ISIS cooperation.

No Honor among Palestinian Prisoners

on May 29, 2017
(Israel Hayom) Dr. Reuven Berko - The Palestinian security prisoners' hunger strike was meant to instigate a mass intifada, which in turn was meant to have the world see jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the strike's leader, as the individual with whom they would have to negotiate. But the instigators failed to account for the political schism plaguing the Palestinians, which is why the majority of Hamas prisoners opted not to take part. Barghouti's supporters in Fatah also ignored the fact that his aggressive power play was seen by Abbas supporters as a power grab and an attempt to undermine Abbas. The illusion that the prisoners' strike and their families' protest would make a difference to President Trump also proved a mistake. Moreover, there was never any chance that the Israeli government would be swayed into giving in, particularly considering that the prisoners already enjoy too many privileges. As the strike waned, the leadership representing the prisoners, who are preparing for the real fast of the holy month of Ramadan, understood that any hunger strike would prove futile. As the international community has marginalized the Palestinian issue in favor of the war on terror and the struggle against Iran, Abbas realized that attempting to impose a deal on Israel via Western, Arab and American pressure was a pointless delusion. Dr. Col. (ret.) Reuven Berko was an adviser on Arab Affairs to the Jerusalem district police.
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