Poll: Most Palestinians Still Back Stabbings (AP-Ynet News)
58% of Palestinians still back stabbing attacks on Israelis, but support has dropped by nine points over the past three months, according to a poll released on Monday by Khalil Shikaki's Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
Shikaki said the drop in support appears to be due to a growing perception that such attacks "are widely viewed as ineffective."
The poll also found that 2/3 of Palestinians want PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who turns 81 this week, to resign.
See also Palestinian Poll Results - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
Revolutionary Guards Commander Demands that Iran Annex Bahrain - Maayan Groisman (Jerusalem Post)
Gen. Saeed Qasemi, a Revolutionary Guards commander and the commander of Ansar Hizbullah, a paramilitary group in Iran, has demanded that Iran annex Bahrain, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported Sunday.
"Bahrain is an Iranian province that was detached from the Islamic Republic of Iran due to Western colonialism," he said. "Iran must make efforts to bring Bahrain back into Iranian territory and transform it into a part of Bushehr province."
Iran to Build a Statue of Captured U.S. Sailors - Ahmed Vahdat (Telegraph-UK)
Iran's Revolutionary Guard is planning to build a statue of the U.S. sailors who were captured in Iranian waters earlier this year as a "tourist attraction," said Commander Ali Fadavi, the head of the Guard's naval forces.
Hamas Removes Images of Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood Slogans to Ease Tensions with Egypt - Kifah Ziboun
Hamas has removed all pictures and slogans that refer to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas' affiliation with them from public areas and mosques in Gaza, after a Hamas delegation met with Egyptian intelligence leaders last week.
See also Hamas Fails to Convince Cairo that It Harbors No Hostile Intentions toward Egypt - Zvi Mazel (Jerusalem Post)
Chabad Rabbi Rescues Israeli Backpackers Stranded in Himalayas (JTA)
Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz, 42, flew with a medical evacuation helicopter Tuesday to rescue two stranded Israeli female backpackers, Maya Butbul and Sharon Nachumi, who were suffering from hypothermia on a ridge in the Himalayas, 100 miles from Kathmandu in Nepal.
The two messaged him an SOS signal with a satellite phone they borrowed from Chabad House in Kathmandu, reported the rabbi, who co-directs Chabad of Nepal with his wife, Chani.
The satellite phones were donated by the family of Nadav Shoham, an Israeli hiker killed in a freak blizzard in 2014.
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- Blasts Leave "Scores" Dead at Brussels Airport and Metro Station - James McAuley
Explosions believed to be suicide attacks rocked Brussels airport and the Maelbeek metro station on Tuesday, leaving "scores" dead, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said. The bombings came four days after the arrest in Belgium of Salah Abdeslam, a key participant in the November attacks on Paris. (Washington Post)
- Khamenei Accuses U.S. of Failing to Respect Nuclear Deal
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Washington of failing to respect the terms of the nuclear deal that lifts sanctions on Tehran, in a speech Sunday marking the Persian New Year. "They have said they lifted the sanctions...but, in fact, they are working to prevent the lifting of sanctions from taking effect," he said. "Today, in all the Western countries which are under their influence, banking transactions come up against problems." (AFP)
See also Khamenei Intensifies His Anti-Americanism - Mehdi Khalaji
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his radical anti-American position in his speech on the Persian New Year (Nowruz). The speech's main theme was how the enemy is trying to use sophisticated tricks to impose its will on the nation.
Khamenei also directed harsh words at President Obama's annual "Nowruz Message to the Iranian People," issued on March 19: "When I say 'enemy,' I mean 'U.S. government.'...They sent a Nowruz message and showed sympathy to our youths, or they arrange [a traditional Nowruz display] in the White House. Well, this is like deceiving a little kid. Nobody would believe such things." (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Presidential Candidates Address AIPAC in Washington
U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich addressed the AIPAC policy conference in Washington on Monday.
Speeches at AIPAC: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- A New Hardline Leader for Hamas - Avi Issacharoff
Qatar-based Khaled Mashaal is no longer the sole decision-maker in Hamas when it comes to Gaza. A new leader, Yahya Sinwar, has emerged in Gaza. A charismatic man, Sinwar is leading an intensifying challenge to Mashaal's leadership. While Mashaal stays in luxury hotels in the Gulf states, Sinwar lives in the Khan Yunis refugee camp. He spent 22 years in Israeli prisons until released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner-exchange deal and is considered a radical hardliner who inspires the loyalty of Hamas' military wing.
Sinwar's release wrought a change in the structure of the entire leadership. One of the founders of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam military brigades, Sinwar began asserting himself as Hamas' Number One man in Gaza. Members of the military wing have kept in close contact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force and continue to receive funding through various channels.
Hamas' military wing is pursuing an independent policy toward Islamic State personnel in Sinai. Transferring wounded members of IS for medical treatment in Gaza, digging tunnels into Egypt, moving arms and ammunition to Sinai, and training Islamic State fighters are all taking place as an organized project of the military wing, with the knowledge of Yahya Sinwar, but without the consent of the political wing in Gaza or of Mashaal in Qatar.
(Times of Israel )
- Why Israel Treats Wounded Syrians - Dov Lieber
Israel will treat any Syrian who requires serious medical assistance, no matter who they are. Medical assistance to Syrian civil war casualties, the IDF says, is a humanitarian initiative. Over 2,000 Syrians have been treated in Israel since December 2013. Many are women and children.
Of the 600 Syrian patients treated to date at Safed hospital, of whom 80% arrived with severe orthopedic trauma, only nine have died. Many return to Syria able to walk again, with orthopedic devices that can cost up to $3,000 each. Each patient costs the Israeli taxpayer about $15,000.
Dr. Nir Boms, a research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and at the International Center for Counter Terrorism in Herzliya, argues that Israel is also forming important contacts and relationships with Syrian groups just across the border. These local groups help keep the area safe, and keep channels of communication open to the other side.
(Times of Israel)
- Did the UN Just Admit that Israel Is Among the Happiest Places on Earth? - Zev Chafets
A UN study of the state of international happiness released on Sunday, International Happiness Day, listed the expected top ten, all peaceful, long established, prosperous democracies with homogenous populations, located in the calmest regions of the First World. Then, at number 11, comes Israel.
Israel? A hated democracy in the world's most violent neighborhood? A society where boys and girls are drafted into the army at eighteen and men do military reserve duty well into their forties? Where taxes are higher and salaries far lower than in dozen countries that rank lower on the happiness scale? A nation with a history so somber that it has three separate national days of mourning?
In its 2015 survey, the OECD, a club of the world's most advanced nations, examined "general satisfaction with life" in its member states. The Danes and the Swiss finished neck-and-neck for first place. Israel finished in a three-way tie for second place with Norway and Finland.
For most of the past century, the Arabs of Palestine have believed that the Jewish state was an artificial entity, a concoction of Europeans who would, if sufficiently pressured, go back where they belonged. What the Palestinians do not understand is this is not going to work. In fact, it is a counterproductive waste of time.
Year by year, Israel gets bigger, stronger, richer, more technologically advanced and better accepted by the countries that matter (including regional Sunni regimes in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabiať).
And Israelis get happier. The Palestinians need to internalize this. So do American policy-makers and anyone else banking on life becoming so intolerable that Israel gives up on itself.
The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office and was a delegate to the first Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations.
- The Murder that United Uruguay - Sal Emergui
Carlos Omar Peralta Lopez (also known as Abdullah Omar), 35, murdered
Jewish businessman David Fremd, 55, in Paysandu, Uruguay, two weeks ago. The murderer, a Uruguayan who had converted to Islam and had been radicalized, stabbed him in the back 10 times while screaming "Allahu akbar." "I murdered a Jew because I was following the orders of Allah," the attacker told the judge.
Sergoio Gorzy, the president of Uruguay's Jewish community and a well-known journalist, expressed his pride over the displays of support by Uruguayans. "More than 10,000 people took to the streets near where the attack happened to demonstrate their pain peacefully. That is an amazing number for a city with no more than 90,000 residents, and the majority of the protesters were not Jewish. I was there, and it was amazing." (Israel Hayom)
Terror Victim's Son to UNHRC: You Encourage Murder - Eldad Beck and Yael Friedson (Ynet News)
See also A UN Council for Terrorist Rights - Yair Lapid (Times of Israel)
- Israeli victims of Palestinian terror testified Monday before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. Several NGOs who hold observer status in the Council invited the terror victims, including Micah Avni, son of Richard Lakin, a peace activist killed in Jerusalem five months ago. "On October 13, two Palestinian terrorists attacked a bus full of innocent civilians in Jerusalem. They shot my 76-year-old father in the head," Avni said.
- Avni then addressed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Human Rights Council, saying, "You did not publicly condemn the Palestinian terrorists or the incitement of the Palestinian Authority, which nourishes the deadly violence. This council's website says that the United Nations responds to the actions of terrorism and lists a long list of terrorist attacks....My father's name is not listed there. In fact, not a single Israeli killed by Palestinian terrorists since September is listed."
- "Killing civilians on a bus is a terrorist act. I challenge you to immediately condemn the murder of my father. I challenge you to condemn [PA leader Mahmoud] Abbas who called the killer a martyr and who calls for violence and hatred."
- At a demonstration outside the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, former Israeli minister Yair Lapid said: "Instead of doing what they're supposed to do, the United Nations Human Rights Council is encouraging murder, encouraging terror, encouraging injustice. And we are not willing to remain silent anymore. That is not a Council for Human Rights. Instead, it has become a Council for Terrorist Rights."
- "400,000 murdered in Syria, tens of thousands murdered in Iraq, in Libya, in Afghanistan - and the Council condemns Israel. Women are raped in Rwanda, Sudan and all across the Middle East - and the Council condemns Israel. People are beheaded and women are forced into slavery in Iraq - the Council condemns Israel....The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only ranked 49th in the number of casualties in conflicts across the world."
- "The treatment of Israel by the Council is far beyond bias. It's obsessive. It's insanity....What they are doing here today, in the United Nations Human Rights Council, is pure, old-fashioned, anti-Semitism."
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