Israel's Iron Dome Intercepts Rocket Fired at Eilat - Ronit Zilberstein, Daniel Siryoti and Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
An Iron Dome battery intercepted a rocket fired toward Eilat by terrorists in Sinai on Friday evening. The battery fired two interceptors at the incoming rocket, which was on a trajectory to hit a populated area.
The Salafist terrorist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which is linked with al-Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack.
See also Egyptians Fight Terrorism, Eilat Pays the Price - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Rockets fired towards Eilat may only be a ricochet effect of massive exchanges of fire in Sinai between the Egyptian army and the jihadi group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (the Champions of Jerusalem).
On Friday, the Egyptian air force bombed the houses of terrorists in northern Sinai, killing 13 and injuring 7.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis published a message saying the fire towards Eilat was "in light of obvious cooperation between the traitorous Egyptian regime (with Israel)...and in their granting of permission to Zionist unmanned aerial vehicles to fly over the Sinai Peninsula and spy after jihad fighters."
Report: Hamas Removes Its Rocket-Prevention Squads - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
Hamas has removed most of the 900-strong force it employs to prevent rocket fire into Israel from Gaza.
Fatah Wants Kerry Prosecuted by ICC for "Threatening" Abbas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently threatened PA President Mahmoud Abbas that he would meet the same fate as his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, if he turned down Washington's proposals for peace with Israel, a Palestinian source was quoted Sunday by the website Rai al-Youm as saying.
Jamal Muhaissen, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, said, "If true, Kerry's threat paves the way for bringing him before the International Criminal Court for threatening the life of an elected Palestinian president."
SodaStream Is a Factory, Not a Settlement (Yaacov Lozowick)
In any other context, worldwide, a private company maintaining a factory in an underdeveloped country to take advantage of its lower labor costs would be regarded as a boon for the hosting country.
SodaStream, however, isn't paying hundreds of Palestinian workers what they'd get from a Palestinian employer. It's paying the Palestinian laborers Israeli wages, with the social benifits mandated by Israeli law.
Nobody lives in the SodaStream factory: it's a factory.
If ever there is peace between Israel and Palestine, Israeli-owned factories in Palestine employing Palestinians is precisely the sort of thing everyone should be wishing for - for the quantifiable advantage of employment and foreign currency.
In any other context, this is called FDI (foreign direct investment) and is eagerly sought by politicians.
When it comes to Israel-Palestine, however, normal discourse goes silent.
The writer is Israel's Chief Archivist.
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- Kerry Seeks to Boost Pressure on Syria over Chemical Weapons - Adam Entous and Laurence Norman
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia and other countries on Saturday to join the U.S. in putting pressure on the Syrian regime to fulfill commitments to give up its chemical arsenal, saying Damascus needed to stop making "excuses." Just 4% of Syria's 530 metric tons of most-dangerous chemicals have been removed so far, despite a Dec. 31, 2013, deadline for removing all of them, according to U.S. officials.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Assad Said to Be Hoarding Chemical Weapons
The London Sunday Times reported that Syrian President Assad has been stockpiling chemical, biological and other advanced weapons in Syria's Alawite areas. "The Israelis believe that some of the weaponry [includes] mainly chemical warheads for missiles and artillery shells." (Times of Israel)
- Syrian Peace Talks End in Stalemate - Henry Austin
A contentious round of Syrian peace talks ended Friday with little or no progress towards ending the three-year civil war. While the opposition wants the talks to focus on a transitional administration that will remove Assad from power, the government wants to talk about fighting "terrorism," a term it uses for all of its foes.
See also Almost 1,900 Dead in Syria During Peace Talks - Andrew Katz (TIME)
See also Syrian Forces Kill 83 in Barrel Bomb Attacks in Aleppo - Stephen Kalin (Reuters)
- Libya's Cache of Toxic Arms All Destroyed - Eric Schmitt
The U.S. and Libya in the past three months have discreetly destroyed the last remnants of Col. Gaddafi's lethal arsenal of chemical arms. They used a transportable oven technology to destroy hundreds of bombs and artillery rounds filled with deadly mustard agent, which American officials had feared could fall into the hands of terrorists.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Israel Boycott Moves Immoral, Damage Peace
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday:
"Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust. Moreover, they will not achieve their goal. First, they cause the Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and thus push peace further away. Second, no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel's citizens. For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal." (Prime Minister's Office)
- Jordanians, Palestinians Voice Rejection of Kerry's Peace Plans - Muath Freij
Jordanians and Palestinians on Saturday voiced their rejection of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's proposed "framework" for a final peace deal between Palestine and Israel. Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said Kerry has a dangerous political agenda that will harm the Palestinian cause.
Ziad Masri noted that Palestinians are fully aware of the conspiracy against them, while Saeed Jameel said there should be no compromises on the right of return.
- Ya'alon: Let's Not Delude Ourselves Regarding Abbas' Intentions
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a dispute over territory, but over the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state and to declare an end to the conflict, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Sunday.
"The core of the conflict is not territory which was liberated or occupied or taken in '67," he said. "The conflict started early on since the dawn of Zionism, and unfortunately I don't see a leadership on the Palestinian side that is ready to say that if we reach a compromise on territory it would be the end of claims."
Although he favored negotiations with the Palestinians, he was not ready to discuss an Israeli pullback from "an inch" of the West Bank as long as the government of Mahmoud Abbas was not willing to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. "I support the negotiations, I support any political engagement, but we should tell the truth to ourselves and not delude ourselves and deceive ourselves regarding President Mahmoud Abbas' intentions," Ya'alon said.
- Syria Must Stop Stalling on its Delivery of Chemical Weapons - Editorial
In practice, the landmark effort to destroy Syria's entire stockpile of dangerous chemical weapons has stalled. Syria has failed to fulfill its part of the deal, moving only 4% of the chemicals to the port at Latakia.
Assad is, in effect, slow-walking the chemicals in order to obtain more security equipment. U.S. Ambassador Robert P. Mikulak said that Syria has demanded "armored jackets for shipping containers, electronic countermeasures, and detectors for improvised explosive devices." Mikulak added that the demands are "without merit."
Assad's gambit is unacceptable. The chemical weapons removal was the direct outgrowth of the use of poison gas to kill more than 1,400 people last year, including women and children. It appears that Assad is playing games. This cannot be tolerated. (Washington Post)
- Chemical Weapons Fiasco in Syria - Walter Russell Mead
Assad lied to Colin Powell when he asked Syria to stop stealing oil from Iraq in 2003. He lied about stopping militants traveling through Syrian territory to kill Americans in Iraq. He lied about clamping down on Palestinian insurgents based in Syria. And he lied about the al-Kibar nuclear facility that Israel destroyed in 2007. Now he's telling the truth about how much chemical weapons materiel he has? Right...
See also Syria Cheats - David Schenker
There is good reason to believe that Syria will cheat on its agreement with the UN to fully dispose of its chemical weapons arsenal. When it comes to keeping international obligations, Syria's Bashar Assad regime seldom keeps its promises.
The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- Palestine's Peace Bomb:
What Will Happen When One Million Refugees Return to the West Bank? - Steven J. Rosen
With the creation of a Palestinian state, opening the West Bank to a flood of refugees from the neighboring Arab countries could sow the seeds for the rise of further extremism and terrorism on Israel's borders. The refugees who are most likely to resettle in the West Bank and Gaza (or be forced to do so by Arab governments) are the legions who are kept wretched in Syria and Lebanon, the ones who are economically desperate and politically extreme.
Worst of all, from Israel's perspective, the refugees most likely to come are the ones who have decades of membership and training in the terrorist organizations that proliferate in the Palestinian camps in Syria and Lebanon.
Will these Palestinians consider the West Bank their final home, or see it as merely a step on the road toward their final struggle with Israel?
Bringing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into the tiny area of the West Bank, which lies a few miles from the heartland of the Jewish state, alarms many Israelis almost as much as bringing them to Tel Aviv. How will the swarms of jihadists that will be imported to the West Bank be stopped from bringing violence to Israeli towns and villages?
The writer, director of the Washington Project of the Middle East Forum, served for many years as a senior official at AIPAC.
Erekat Is Wrong: The Jewish Presence in the Land Dates Back for Millennia (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed on Jan. 31 that the Palestinians cannot accept Israel as the Jewish state because they lived in the region long before the Jews.
Erekat was promoting the well-known Palestinian narrative that they are the native population, while the Jews are latecomers who only arrived in the last hundred years. Since the Muslim Arab conquest of Palestine occurred only in 634CE, the credibility of this Palestinian claim is questionable, to say the least.
- At the same time, there is documented proof of a Jewish presence in the land dating back millennia. In Jericho itself, the Shalom al Yisrael (Peace unto Israel) synagogue with its magnificent mosaic dates back to the Byzantine period. Not far away is the Wadi Kelt synagogue which dates back to 75 BCE, the oldest synagogue to have been discovered.
- According to Moshe Gil's A History of Palestine 634-1099 published by Cambridge University Press, "The Jewish population in Palestine residing in the country at the time of the Muslim conquest consisted of the direct descendants of the generations of Jews who had lived there since the days of Joshua bin Nun, in other words, for some 2,000 years." In the fifth century, "the Jews and the Samaritans virtually governed the land."
- Salo Wittmayer Baron, in A Social and Religious History of the Jews published by Columbia University Press, recounts how the Caliph "'Umar expelled the Jews of Khaibar, the largest and most intact non-Muslim group still remaining in northern Arabia." According to Al-Bukhari, the most famous and authoritative compiler of Muslim traditions known as hadith, 'Umar deported Khaibar Jews to Jericho.
- There is another tradition that most of the Jews of Khaybar settled in Jericho and in the surrounding area. "The Jews of Khaybar apparently spread out from Jericho along the Jordan Valley, reaching the Sanur Valley in northern Samaria."
- Thus, the Jewish presence in the land can be documented as dating back for millennia, while the politically-motivated claims made up by Palestinian leaders in an attempt to refute the long-standing history of the Jews in the region lack any such proof.
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