Sharansky: 50,000 French Jews Inquired about Aliya in 2014 - Sam Sokol and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Some 50,000 French Jews asked the Jewish Agency for information about immigrating to Israel in 2014, agency chairman Natan Sharansky said Monday.
"They have a choice, to stay in France, where there is the biggest welfare basket ever," to travel to other EU nations, or to immigrate to Montreal, where there are few cultural adjustments to make and which was until recently their primary destination, he said.
"The overwhelming majority" of Jewish emigres from France, possibly up to 70%, choose to go to Israel. "For the first time...there is a massive exodus from a community in the free world, which has all the doors open to them, and they are choosing Israel."
Hizbullah's Global Intelligence War with Israel's Mossad - Ana Maria Luca (NOW-Lebanon)
After Israel's Mossad alerted Peruvian intelligence, on Oct. 28, 2014, Peruvian police raided an apartment in Lima and arrested Mohammad Ghaleb Hamdar, 29, a Lebanese Hizbullah agent with a passport from Sierra Leone who had explosive devices and traces of nitroglycerine in his apartment.
On his personal computer they found over 200 photos of strategic objectives in Lima: the airport, metal detectors, banks, police stations, the Peruvian Ministry of Finance, as well as private security at some public institutions, tourist attractions and hotels that had the Israeli flag hoisted out front.
During his interrogation, Hamdar admitted he was a Hizbullah member, hired in Beirut, given a fake identity and "advised" to marry his Peruvian sweetheart in order to obtain residency documents in Peru.
Hamdar's story resembles that of Houssam Taleb Yaacoub, a Swedish-Lebanese who was arrested in Larnaca in 2012, who also confessed to the police that he was a scout and a courier for Hizbullah.
Yaacoub used his Swedish passport to travel across Europe, deliver mysterious packages without checking their content, and canvas security locations and Israeli tourist hang-outs in Cyprus and Turkey.
Economist: Some Iranians Gain from Sanctions - Katy Barnato (CNBC)
Saeed Laylaz, an economist who advised Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami, told CNBC on Tuesday that many inside the Iranian ruling regime actually "love" Western sanctions because they provided a smokescreen for their mismanagement of the economy.
"Inside the government of Iran, there have been, and there are, a lot of people who love this sanction, because they need it....The Islamic Republic of Iran can hide its mismanagement of the country and organized looting of Iranian wealth."
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- U.S. Weighs Cutting Aid to Palestinians over ICC Move - Bradley Klapper
The Obama administration said Monday it was reviewing its annual $440 million aid package to the Palestinians because of their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. "We're deeply troubled by the Palestinian action," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. Joining the court "is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace." Under American law, any Palestinian case against Israel at the court would trigger an immediate cutoff of U.S. financial support.
Psaki also criticized Israel for withholding tens of millions in tax revenues to the Palestinians, saying such a step "raises tensions." (AP)
- Palestinians Seen Gaining Momentum in Quest for Statehood - Jodi Rudoren
Palestinians have gained political momentum with moves made outside of negotiations to establish a state. International recognition, by 135 countries and counting, is what Palestinians are betting could eventually force changes on the ground - without their leaders having to make concessions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Sunday that he would "not sit idly by" in the face of what he called Palestinian "confrontation." Meanwhile, PA
President Mahmoud Abbas seems increasingly indifferent to American diplomacy. He vowed Sunday to resubmit a Security Council resolution that failed last week "again and again" and to "join 100, 200, 300" international organizations, despite the risk of Israeli and American sanctions. Talk of the two sides agreeing on anything has all but disappeared.
Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser, played down the significance of the recent Palestinian steps and said of threats to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, "We have been there and it's not so bad," referring to the pre-Oslo accord days. (New York Times)
See also Hamas "Totally Opposed" to Abbas Plan for New UN Bid (AFP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Egypt to Expand Gaza Border Buffer Zone to Up to 2 Km. - Avi Issacharoff
Egypt has begun the second stage of creating a buffer zone between Sinai and Gaza. The current zone is being expanded from 500 meters to a kilometer. However, there will be additional stages which will ultimately expand the zone to 1.5-2 km. The plan will result in the eviction of hundreds of families, initially to El-Arish and in the future to a new Rafah and a new suburb of Ismailiya on the banks of the Suez Canal.
These buffer zones are meant to help the Egyptian military in its fight against the fundamentalist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, which has recently joined the Islamic State. 16-17 Egyptian battalions are operating in Sinai, including commando, armored, and infantry units. Egypt estimates that its operations have forced dozens of jihadis to flee Sinai for Libya.
(Times of Israel)
- Israeli Group Files War Crimes Suits Against Palestinian Leaders - Avi Lewis
The Israeli legal group Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center filed lawsuits on Monday at the International Criminal Court against PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, top official Jibril Rajoub, and PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj, all from Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, for war crimes, terrorism and human rights offenses. The NGO filed cases against Abbas last November and Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in September 2014.
"Fatah openly boasted in Facebook pages and other media channels that it launched projectiles that caused the injury and death of Israeli civilians - a war crime under international law," the NGO said. The case against Faraj and Hamdallah details widespread torture and killings of Palestinian residents in areas under PA control.
(Times of Israel)
- The Palestinian Authority's Latest Charade - Jennifer Rubin
"Palestinians continue to be plagued by poor leadership. Being unable to get nine votes in the Security Council; losing when they might have won by delaying a month; energizing American opposition to their actions - all to join an organization [the ICC] where they are actually far more at risk than Israel," observes former U.S. deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams. "The Fatah leadership in Ramallah is not brave enough to face down Hamas and make peace, nor brave enough to face their own people in an election. So they go for these gyrations in New York instead, hoping to fool Palestinians into thinking these charades constitute courageous action."
Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies notes: "The idea now is to sow fear among Israelis that the threat of war crimes lingers. But it's still unclear whether the PA has a case, let alone standing....The Israelis are not cowering. The Palestinian street is not impressed. The international community has grown weary of these diplomatic stunts....Ultimately, there is little choice for the PA but to return to the tough slog of negotiations." (Washington Post)
- UN Resolution 242 Is Recognized as the Key UN Resolution on the Israeli-Arab Conflict - Yonah Jeremy Bob
In an article to be published soon in the Chicago Journal of International Law, Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University compares UN Security Council Resolution 242 to all 18 other Security Council resolutions dealing with territorial withdrawals and finds that the resolution was unique in its ambiguity as to how much territory Israel needs to withdraw from, with other resolutions being explicit about a full withdrawal.
Kontorovich cites five pre-1967 UN resolutions obligating withdrawals, noting that the USSR had to withdraw from "the whole" of Iran, and that Belgium had to withdraw from "the territory" of Congo. In contrast, the intentional dropping of "the" in 242 and leaving out of a set date or geographic marker shows that the UN intentionally left the issue vague.
Former UN Ambassador and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president Dore Gold responded to the article, saying, "Unfortunately there are voices that believe the whole discussion of the absence of the definite article 'the' in 242 is being picky. What they don't understand is that the language of the resolution was drafted at the highest levels of the U.S. government at the time."
"It was no less than LBJ [President Lyndon Johnson] who held firm and insisted that the language be 'withdrawal from territories' without the word 'the' to limit the withdrawal obligation." "Kontorovich has come onto something extremely important which reinforces the traditional Israeli interpretation of 242."
- Why the Palestinians' Diplomatic Intifada Will Fail - Aaron David Miller
The Arabs remain Israel's best talking points. Much of the region is melting down right now.
Regarding the U.S.-Israel relationship, I know there's a view out there that Barack Obama is just waiting to stick it to Benjamin Netanyahu. And that now that the president isn't running for anything anymore, he has a chance to be tough. But back on planet Earth, there are any number of factors that will prevent such toughening.
The more the Palestinians press to isolate Israel, the harder the Administration will work to prevent it. This month the Republicans will take over both Houses of Congress and will likely move to support Israel by sanctioning the PA and introducing more sanctions on Iran.
And let's be clear. The president's real priority isn't the peace process; it's to determine whether he can reach a deal with Iran on the nuclear issue. He'll have a hard enough time selling that one to Congress and the Israelis (along with the Saudis) without opening himself up to charges that he's jamming the Israelis when it comes to not standing up to the Palestinians' diplomatic intifada. The writer is vice president for new initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The Dream Palace of the Arab - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
- In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza, leaving Mahmoud Abbas in charge and giving him a chance to make something of the territory. Gaza dissolved into civil war within months. In 2008, Israel offered Abbas a state covering 94% of the West Bank. He never took up the offer.
Last March, President Obama personally offered Abbas a U.S.-sponsored "framework" agreement. Again Abbas demurred.
- Now Abbas has moved to have "the state of Palestine" join the International Criminal Court, chiefly in order to harass Israeli military officers and politicians spuriously accused of war crimes. The gambit will fail for the simple reason that two can play the game.
- Abbas consistently refuses a Palestinian state because such a state is infinitely more trivial than a Palestinian struggle. So long as "Palestine" is in the process of becoming, it matters. Once it exists, it all but doesn't. This explains why no Palestinian leader will ever accept such a state on any terms. After the endless stream of Palestinian rejections, one begins to sense a pattern.
- What if Western leaders refused to take Abbas' calls? What if they pointed out that, in the broad spectrum of global interests, the question of Palestinian statehood ranked very low? What if these leaders observed that, in the scale of human tragedy, the supposed plight of the Palestinians is of small account next to the human suffering in Syria or South Sudan?
- In that event, the Palestinian dream palace might shrink to its proper size, and bring the attractions of practical statecraft into sharper focus. Genuine peace might become possible.
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