Jewish Centers across U.S. Face New Wave of Bomb Threats - Mitch Smith and Alan Blinder (New York Times)
On Wednesday, Jewish centers in 17 states received bomb threats, according to the J.C.C. Association of North America, in the second such incident this month.
Sizable Arab Force Amassed for Move Against ISIS Stronghold in Raqqa, Syria - Gordon Lubold and Margaret Coker (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S.-led coalition has amassed an Arab force of 23,000 men in northern Syria it considers large enough to move the fight against Islamic State into the city of Raqqa, U.S. military officials said.
The fighters come from 15 different tribal groups, with some recruited from camps filled with displaced Syrians.
Abbas Poses with Photo of Palestinian Terrorist Who Massacred 38 Israelis, Including 13 Kids (The Tower)
Fatah, the ruling political party of the Palestinian Authority,
posted a picture Thursday on its Facebook page showing President Mahmoud Abbas posing with a child holding a photo of Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who led the 1978 Coastal Road massacre that murdered 38 passengers, including 13 children, and wounded 71 others.
Mughrabi and 11 other terrorists sailed to Israel from Lebanon, reaching shore north of Tel Aviv. Mughrabi personally shot Gail Rubin, an American photojournalist encountered on the beach, before hijacking the Israeli bus.
Syrian Woman Gives Birth in Israeli Hospital, Names Daughter Sarah - Danny Brenner (Israel Hayom)
A Syrian woman gave birth to a healthy girl last weekend in Ziv Medical Center in Safed, and in gratitude gave the baby a Jewish name - Sarah.
The woman came from a village in a region where every hospital and clinic had been destroyed, so she went to the Israeli border and was brought to the hospital by the Israel Defense Forces.
"When my husband heard I insisted on going to the border to give birth in a hospital, he asked that if she was born healthy, to give her a Jewish name in gratitude to Israel," she said.
"I'll never forget what you did here for my daughter Sarah and for me," she said. "When Sarah grows up...I'll tell her where she was born and why...we chose to call her Sarah."
Blind Israeli Golfer Is a World Champ - Ruth Eglash (Washington Post)
Zohar Sharon, 64, a legally blind golfer, is somewhat of a legend around the globe. He and his trusted caddie, Shimshon Levy, have won the International Blind Golf Association's world tournament six times, most recently last year in Japan.
Today, there are more than 400 registered blind golfers from 16 national associations around the world. Sharon is the only one from Israel.
Levy, his caddie, places the club in his hand while whispering a codelike series of instructions: which direction he should hit the ball, his distance from the green, how hard or soft to hit the ball to get it closer to or in the hole.
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- U.S.: Security Council Should Push Iran on Arms Embargo - Michelle Nichols
The UN Security Council needs to push Iran to abide by the UN arms embargo, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Wednesday. A UN report expressed concern that Iran may have violated the embargo by supplying arms to Hizbullah. "We on the council need to come together to push Iran to effectively implement the binding provisions of resolution 2231 - especially restrictions that ban Iran's export of arms and related material," said Power.
- Trump UN Nominee Supports Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - Jordan Dagamseh and Kifah Zboun
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, President-elect Trump's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the UN, was asked during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if she supported Trump's campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
"Absolutely," Haley said. "And not only is that what Israel wants, but that is what this Congress has said that is what they support." (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
See also Trump: I Did Not Forget Jerusalem Embassy Move Pledge - Alexander Fulbright
President-elect Donald Trump was asked by Israel Hayom on Tuesday in Washington if he intends to go through with his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. "Of course I remember what I said about Jerusalem. You know that I am not a person who breaks promises," Trump responded in remarks published in Hebrew on Thursday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Air Force Receives First Operational Arrow 3 Missile Interceptors - Anna Ahronheim
The Israel Air Force on Wednesday received its first Arrow-3 interceptors to strengthen its defenses against the threat of long-range Iranian missiles. The Arrow-3 is designed to intercept ballistic missiles when they are still outside the earth's atmosphere.
See also Arrow-3: Israel's First Line of Defense Against Advanced Iranian Shihab Missiles - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
- Israeli Bedouin, Police Officer Killed in Clashes in Israel - Almog Ben Zikri
An Israeli policeman and a Bedouin Israeli were killed Wednesday during clashes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, sparked by the demolition of illegal homes in the Negev village.
See also The Bedouin Localities of Hiran in Southern Israel
Most of the Negev Bedouins live in planned, modern localities. A minority of Bedouins live in unrecognized locations and encampments, lacking basic infrastructure. Israel has made enormous efforts to find agreed-upon solutions that would benefit this population. The 200 residents of the unrecognized site of Hiran, which comprised only a handful of structures before the mid-1980s, have been offered 140 plots in the modern Bedouin town of Hura, 5 km. away. Some 3,500 members of the same Bedouin tribe already live in Hura.
The Israeli government gave the affected Bedouin families the chance to move to plots allocated for their use and that of their children in Hura, and offered them financial compensation as well. The government gave them an additional alternative: to live in the new town that is planned for Hiran. After a 10-year legal battle, the Israel Supreme Court decided in 2015 to implement the approved plans.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Gazans Are Fed Up with Hamas - Alex Fishman
Last Thursday, thousands of Palestinians marched through Jabalia in Gaza chanting, "The people want the fall of the regime." There have been ten popular protests in Gaza in the past month. For the first time, the potential of toppling the Hamas government from the inside was exposed.
The Palestinians in Gaza no longer believe that their living conditions will ever improve.
See also Israel Hopes Gazans Overthrow Hamas Regime - Jeremy Sharon
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday called on the citizens of Gaza to overthrow the Hamas regime and promised that Israeli support and assistance for the Palestinian population will be forthcoming if such an uprising takes place. He said tax revenues from Gaza's residents "are not going to benefit those residents, not to the health system or the education system, or the electricity grid, but to make missiles, weapons and tunnels - and people aren't willing to tolerate this."
Lieberman pointed to the much better economic opportunities and calmer security situation in the West Bank as evidence of the efficacy of economic development for security. He said, "If the residents of Gaza took responsibility for their own fate and got rid of Hamas, we would be the first to build industrial zones there at Kerem Shalom and the Erez crossing and build a seaport and airport."
Lieberman was also critical of President Obama's pardon of Chelsea Manning, who leaked "thousands of sensitive documents" and exposed them to the enemies of the U.S., while Obama refused to ease the terms of parole for Jonathan Pollard, who had transferred documents only to a U.S. ally. (Jerusalem Post)
- Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - Robert Satloff
Any assessment of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem needs to place appropriate value not just on repairing a historic injustice but on the powerful signal broadcast to the Middle East - and the wider world - that a new administration is determined to chart a new course in the region, one in which fulfilling commitments to allies is a top priority.
The move of the U.S. embassy is 69 years overdue. Given that American administrations of both parties have done official business with the government of Israel in Jerusalem for seven decades and that five presidents have held official meetings with Israeli prime ministers in Jerusalem going back to the early 1970s, it is right and proper that America's main diplomatic mission to Israel be situated
in the city Israelis have considered their capital from the founding of the state. Moreover, the U.S. should call on all UN member states to join in establishing their embassies to Israel in Jerusalem.
U.S. officials should tell Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the relocation is happening and that he and the PA have an interest in preventing, not provoking, violence from which only radicals, especially Hamas, can benefit. Abbas should be told not to urge mass protest that has the potential to turn violent, and that the continued provision of economic aid will depend on how the Palestinian leadership comports itself in presenting the facts of the embassy relocation to the Palestinian people. The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Rabin Saw the Jordan River as Israel's Eastern Border - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
Jacques Neriah, who served as political advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,
is the author of Between Rabin and Arafat: Political Diary 1993-1994 (Hebrew, 2016). In an interview on Jan. 14, 2017, with Tali Lipkin-Shahak on Israel Army Radio, Neriah said:
The Oslo Accord was devised as a two-phase process: After creating the Palestinian Authority - should the two nations "become used to one another" and their ability to coexist would be established - then they would move on to the second phase: resolving the final status issues. The debate surrounding the core issues such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees was postponed to the second phase because, if they would have been discussed during the first phase, there would be no agreement and no accord.
According to Rabin, Israel's eastern border has to be the Jordan River. No one but Israel can secure this region. This negates the contemporary popular belief that the Oslo accord was supposed to end with an independent Palestinian state with recognized borders and a Palestinian military. (Israel Army Radio-Hebrew)
Paris Peace Conference Ignored French Court Ruling on Israeli Settlements - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
- The conferees in Paris on Sunday should have first checked what French courts have to say about Israeli settlements and international law before criticizing Israel.
- In 2013 the French Court of Appeals in Versailles ruled that, contrary to Palestinian arguments, Jewish settlements don't violate the Geneva Conventions' prohibition against an occupying power transferring "its civilian population into the territory it occupies." The law, the court held, bars government efforts to transfer populations. But it doesn't bar private individuals settling in the disputed territories.
- The Paris conference adopted the premise that settlements are illegal as a matter of settled law. Yet the French court makes a nonsense of that judgment simply by looking at what the Geneva Conventions say, rather than basing its judgment on a legally meaningless "international consensus."
- The Paris conference makes untenable territorial demands on Israel and gives Palestinians the hope that they can achieve their aims without making compromises.
The reality is that Israel will never return to the 1967 lines.
- Moreover, no Palestinian state is going to come into existence so long as it is run by kleptocrats in the West Bank and jihadists in Gaza. The next time a similar conference is organized, it would do better to address Palestinian capacity for responsible self-government.
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