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Israeli Officials Dismiss Report by EU Consuls on Jerusalem - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli diplomatic officials dismissed a report by EU consuls to the PA calling for strengthened support for Palestinians in east Jerusalem.
Both Israel and EU officials said Monday that the report on Israel's policies in east Jerusalem was issued annually, and contained very similar language to previous reports.
One Israeli official said the document was routinely ignored in Brussels because it was seen as "wildly one-sided."
He noted that AFP had reported on the document a month ago, and speculated that it was being "re-leaked" to take advantage of the controversy over the Shepherd Hotel demolition.
Netanyahu Posts Pay Stub on Facebook (Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday posted a copy of his government pay stub on Facebook, letting everyone know he takes home just 15,000 shekels ($4,200) each month.
See also The Buck Stops with Bibi - David Kenner (Foreign Policy)
Netanyahu's posted pay slip reveals that he makes approximately $120,000 a year, significantly less than President Obama's $400,000 salary.
Netanyahu's gross income was 43,952 shekels, but after tax deductions, his net income came out to 15,027 shekels. That's a tax rate of almost 66%.
German Trade with Iran Increased in 2010 - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
Despite new rounds of UN and EU sanctions in 2010, German-Iranian export and import trade increased last year, according to new German government trade statistics.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration's also approved 16 dual-use transactions with Tehran.
Angst about Islamist Groups Goes Mainstream in Germany - Kirsten Grieshaber (Washington Post)
Spooked by what many see as a terrorism threat, ordinary people across Europe are becoming increasingly vocal in opposing radical Muslims. They are ditching traditions of tolerance and saying no to cultures that do not share their democratic values.
Wilfried Schultz, 60, who is leading the opposition to the construction of a Muslim religious school by the austere, militant Invitation to Paradise group in Moenchengladbach, Germany, points to online videos of the Muslim group that call for the execution of secular Muslims and demand that women never leave home without male chaperons.
Schultz and others staged weekly protests, collected thousands of signatures, and formed alliances with local lawmakers, church leaders and moderate Muslim imams.
German intelligence services say they have an eye on Invitation to Paradise because it belongs to the Salafist movement, which has been linked to terror plots.
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- Jerusalem Will Never Be Divided, Says City Mayor
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has vowed that the city would never be divided to allow the eastern side to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.
"It's not going to happen, it's not natural, it's the wrong thing to do from any perspective," he said. "We know that there is not one example of a working model of a split city."
Barkat also rejected international criticism of the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem and said critics should visit Jerusalem before speaking out.
He said the Shepherd Hotel was "owned legally, by Jewish owners, [and] they have asked to develop the land according to the zoning code....They have been granted permission like they would be in any city, in any country in the world." "Anybody trying to freeze [construction] by race - its anti-constitutional, it is double standards, and it is not acceptable." (AFP)
See also Israeli Prime Minister's Statement on the Shepherd Hotel
Actions undertaken at the Shepherd Hotel were conducted by private individuals in accordance with Israeli law. The Israeli government was not involved.
There should be no expectation that the State of Israel will impose a ban on Jews purchasing private property in Jerusalem. No democratic government would impose such a ban on Jews and Israel will certainly not do so.
Just as Arab residents of Jerusalem can buy or rent property in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Jews can buy or rent property in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
(Prime Minister's Office)
See also below Commentary: Toppled Palestinian "Landmark" Symbolized Hate - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary Magazine)
- Ties Make Palestinian State a South American Priority - Eva Vergara and Carla Salazar
Five South American nations have recognized Palestinian statehood in recent weeks, and several more are expected to do so soon. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera decided to recognize Palestinian statehood on Friday, but was studiously neutral on the question of borders. Recognizing pre-1967 borders for a Palestinian state could undermine Chile's own refusal to cede territory it won from Peru and Bolivia in 1879.
Argentina, meanwhile, sees itself as the victim of an illegal land seizure - Britain's control of the Falkland Islands, which Argentina still claims. Cultural ties also are key. Brazil and Paraguay have sizable Lebanese populations, Syrians are prominent in Argentina, and Chile's Palestinian community, some 400,000 strong, is among the largest outside the Middle East.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Congressmen: Funding for Israeli Anti-Missile Defense Systems Still Top Priority - Yitzhak Benhorin
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the new chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and subcommittee member Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), said in an interview that they support the ongoing special funding allocated by the Obama administration for Israel's Iron Dome and Arrow-3 anti-missile program, despite pressures for spending cuts.
Granger noted that Hizbullah now has 45,000 missiles which demand some kind of response. Rothman said, "Israel has assisted in the security of the United States on literally thousands of occasions in nearly immeasurable ways." (Ynet News)
- UN May Help Lebanon Demarcate Sea Borders for Gas Finds - Patrick Galey
Following a request from Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said Monday the UN may provide support in delineating Lebanon's maritime borders. Williams admitted that Lebanon and Israel's state of war made border demarcation a particularly thorny issue.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami said no company should be allowed to operate in waters off Lebanon and Israel until their territorial waters were internationally recognized.
- Palestinians in Gaza Fire Three Rockets at Ashkelon - Yanir Yagna
Three rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza exploded in the Ashkelon region on Monday.
Two of the rockets landed in Ashkelon's southern industrial zone.
- Netanyahu Sends Letter to Thank PA Firefighters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to President Mahmoud Abbas thanking him for Palestinian assistance in extinguishing Israel's worst fire, Israel Radio reported. Abbas dispatched PA firefighters to help battle a fire in the Carmel forest which broke out on Dec. 2. Netanyahu wrote that the PA was the first to respond to Israel's request for help, and that the quick response had saved lives, homes and trees. He added that he hoped to continue in the same spirit of cooperation and partnership in negotiations to achieve permanent peace with Palestinians.
- Toppled Palestinian "Landmark" Symbolized Hate - Jonathan S. Tobin
The New York Times reported that new housing in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem involved the destruction of what it claimed was a Palestinian "landmark." The building in question was a large home built in the 1930s for one of the most notorious figures in 20th-century history: Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, who inspired bloody pogroms against the Jews.
After the outbreak of World War II, he joined forces with the Nazis, meeting with Hitler and then spending the war making Arabic propaganda broadcasts for the Axis and successfully recruiting Muslims to serve in a special SS brigade. He was promised that, in the event of a German victory, he would be made the puppet ruler of what is now Israel, where he would assist the Nazis in the massacre of the several hundred thousand Jews who lived there.
That a home connected to Husseini or any other Nazi would be considered a landmark whose demolition inspired statements of sadness from Palestinian leaders speaks volumes about the nature of Palestinian politics.
- Iran Steps Up Arming Hizbullah Against Israel - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
Israeli and Western intelligence services have long been aware of Syrian and Iranian involvement in Hizbullah's arms build-up. A senior Pentagon official has divulged that Hizbullah has 50,000 rockets and missiles, including 40-50 Fatah 110 missiles and 10 SCUD-C ground-to-ground missiles. Furthermore, some 10,000 Hizbullah fighters have been provided with a broad range of modern weapons, while the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have trained Hizbullah teams to operate these weapons.
Hizbullah continues to conceal its war materiel in mosques, schools, and fire stations. According to Israeli intelligence, at least 100 Lebanese villages have become genuine military bases. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Gaza's Economy: How Hamas Stays in Power - Ehud Yaari and Eyal Ofer
Since Israel's August 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas has evolved into a well-funded conglomerate.
From 2006 to 2010, the funds at the group's disposal grew from $40 million to $540 million. At the same time, Hamas has left the main burden of responsibility for Gaza's 1.6 million residents to others. Much of Gaza's per capita GDP derives from payments by the PA. Thus, the PA and international donors are effectively contributing, if indirectly, to Hamas coffers.
According to Palestinian banking officials, $2 billion per year has been transferred into Gaza via the Palestinian banking system since Hamas' June 2007 military takeover. The PA alone wires an estimated $1.2 billion per year into Gaza banks, much of it as pensions and salaries for the 77,000 employees kept on the payroll even though they are not working.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Europe's Irresponsible Gaza Policy - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Wall Street Journal Europe)
In the past nine years, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have launched more than 11,000 rockets and mortars at towns in southern Israel. This extraordinary situation has compelled Israel to take appropriate actions to protect its citizens. I have no doubt that any other country would have employed similar, if not more extreme, measures to fight a threat of this magnitude.
- Weaponry, money and personnel are constantly being smuggled into Gaza, which has been ruled by Iranian-backed Hamas since its coup against Fatah in 2007. The unconditional removal of Israel's defensive measures would only help Hamas' military build-up.
- If the EU wishes to genuinely address the problem, it should contemplate stationing an effective European or international force along the Philadelphi Corridor and at the Rafiah Crossing. Such a force would have to be robust in both operational capabilities and mandate and willing to confront Hamas. We cannot allow a return to the ineffective EUBAM mission, which unilaterally vacated its positions at the Rafiah Crossing upon Hamas' seizure of power in Gaza.
- I can affirm that a cessation of the smuggling will lead to the lifting of restrictions.
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