Istanbul Nightclub Attacker Identified as Islamic State Militant (Hurriyet-Turkey)
Turkish police have identified the Islamic State militant who attacked the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Jan. 1 as Uzbek national Abdulkadir Masharipov.
Accused of killing 39 people and wounding 65 others, he remains at large.
PA-Hamas Dispute Leads to Electricity Shortage in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
A long dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over who pays for the diesel fuel that powers Gaza's power plant has severely curtailed electricity production, leaving Palestinians to deal with the winter cold with just three hours of electricity a day.
The Palestinian Authority purchases the fuel from Israel before it is transferred to Gaza. However, the PA announced in 2015 that it is no longer prepared to pay the full cost of buying fuel for the Gaza power station and told Hamas it needs to pay its share.
UN Chief: Iran May Have Violated Arms Embargo - Michelle Nichols (Reuters)
A report submitted to the Security Council on Dec. 30 by outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern that Iran may have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Hizbullah.
Iran is still subject to an arms embargo, which was not part of the nuclear agreement.
The report also cites an accusation by France that an arms shipment seized in the Indian Ocean in March was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen.
Modern Language Association Rejects Academic Boycott of Israel - Jennifer Schuessler (New York Times)
The Modern Language Association's delegate assembly voted 113 to 79 on Saturday against a resolution endorsing an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
Instead, it voted 101 to 93 to support a measure urging the association to "refrain from endorsing the boycott" on the grounds that it runs counter to the group's mission of promoting teaching, research and scholarly exchange.
Facebook Closes over 100 Hamas-Linked Accounts - Dov Lieber (Times of Israel)
Facebook on Thursday closed down over a hundred pages belonging or sympathetic to the Hamas terror group.
Israel's Elbit to Supply Brazilian Army with Remote Control Weapon Stations for $100 Million - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
Elbit Systems Ltd. said Sunday that its Brazilian subsidiary signed a $100 million framework contract to supply the Brazilian army with remote-controlled weapon stations.
The REMAX weapon station for machine guns will be used in armored and logistics vehicles for border patrol and peacekeeping missions.
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- Palestinian Driver Rams Truck into Israeli Troops in Jerusalem, Killing Four - Jonathan Ferziger and Alisa Odenheimer
A Palestinian truck driver deliberately plowed into a group of Israeli soldiers at a tourism site in Jerusalem, killing four and injuring more than a dozen others, police said, in the deadliest attack in months. The driver was shot and killed by other soldiers at the scene.
See also Arab Truck Driver Kills Four Israeli Soldiers in Jerusalem - Judah Ari Gross
A large flat-bed truck driven by Fadi al-Qanbar, a resident of Jerusalem's Jabel Mukaber neighborhood,
rammed into a group of Israeli soldiers in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood as they were getting off a bus at the Haas-Sherover tourist promenade, killing four soldiers - three women and one man in their 20s - and wounding at least 15.
According to police, the driver accelerated as he struck the group.
Two eyewitnesses said that after the driver hit the soldiers, he put the vehicle in reverse and ran over them a second time before he was shot and killed.
(Times of Israel)
See also Video Shows Deadly Truck Attack in Jerusalem (MSNBC)
- Former Iranian President Rafsanjani Dies - Sohrab Ahmari
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died Sunday at 82.
Argentine prosecutors have marshaled evidence establishing the Rafsanjani government's role in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center, both in Buenos Aires. The two attacks killed more than 100 people.
Rafsanjani was also president in 1996 when Iranian agents bombed Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. service members. In 2001, he said: "If one day the Islamic world is also equipped with [nuclear] weapons...the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything." (Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Jerusalem Terrorist Inspired by ISIS - Herb Keinon
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visiting the scene of the truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem on Sunday, said, "We know the identity of the attacker, and according to all the signs he is a supporter of Islamic State."
The Security Cabinet, meeting in the wake of the attack, decided to approve administrative detention for people identifying with Islamic State and to destroy the home of the terrorist as soon as possible.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the attack was due to the fact that "we are Jews and we live here in Israel. There was no other reason and no need to look for an excuse - not Jewish settlements and negotiations but an attack inspired by ISIS." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Victims of Jerusalem Attack Named
The soldiers killed in Sunday's terrorist attack are Lt. Yael Yakutiel (20), Lt. Shir Hajaj (22), 2nd Lt. Shira Tzur (20), and 2nd Lt. Erez Orbach (20). (Ynet News)
See also U.S. Condemns Terror Attack in Jerusalem (State Department)
See also UN Security Council Condemns Jerusalem Terrorist Attack (Times of Israel)
See also First Responder Describes Scene of Terror Attack - Barney Breen-Portnoy (Algemeiner)
- Hamas Celebrates Terrorist Ramming that Killed 4 Israelis
Thousands of Hamas activists and supporters took to the streets of Jabalya in Gaza on Sunday night to rally against Israel and praise the terrorist ramming attack in Jerusalem which killed four Israelis. Sweets were handed out in celebration.
See also Jerusalem Terrorist's Sister Praises His "Beautiful Martyrdom" - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
- Video: Arab MK Filmed Smuggling Packages to Palestinian Security Prisoner - Gilad Morag and Moran Azulay
Footage showing MK Basel Ghattas smuggling cell phones to Palestinian security prisoner Basel Bizra in a visiting room in an Israeli jail was broadcast on Israel's Channel 10 on Thursday.
Ghattas is seen handing four packages to Bizra, who stuffs them in his pants.
- Video: The Only Way to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Dore Gold
On January 15, the president of France is convening a major international conference on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict with some 70 countries expected to attend. Israel has been very firm that it will not attend and that it objects to the whole idea of this conference.
Israel has learned through many years of negotiations and diplomacy that the only way we
resolve our differences with our neighbors is by sitting face-to-face at the peace table. That's how we reached peace with Egypt in 1979 when Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel sat with Anwar Sadat. That is exactly how we reached peace with Jordan when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sat face-to-face with King Hussein. That is what works: direct negotiations.
What is being planned in Paris gets us away from those direct talks at the peace table into a very
complex world of multilateral negotiations with various European players. That's not how we made peace in the past and that's not how we will make peace in the future.
To end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have to have reconciliation between the two sides. You can only get to this kind of understanding if the sides are really talking to each other. The writer, former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Venezuela's New Vice President Has Ties to Iran, Hizbullah - Linette Lopez
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, announced Wednesday that former minister Tareck El Aissami would become vice president of the country. If Maduro is ousted, as his opposition is calling for, El Aissami will become president. El Aissami is known to U.S. intelligence as part of Venezuela's state drug-trafficking network and has ties to Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah.
The Brazilian paper Veja reported that when he was interior minister under Chavez, El Aissami participated in a clandestine program to provide Venezuelan passports to terrorists in Damascus.
Joseph Humire, coauthor of Iran's Strategic Penetration in Latin America, testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last year: "El Aissami developed a sophisticated, multi-layered financial network that functions as a criminal-terrorist pipeline bringing militant Islamists into Venezuela and surrounding countries, and sending illicit funds and drugs from Latin America to the Middle East." (Business Insider)
- Israel Protects the Palestinian Authority from the Islamist Wave - Reuel Marc Gerecht
Not long ago, I asked a Fatah official how long he thought the Palestinian Authority could survive if Israel stopped supporting its security apparatus. I suggested one month. He replied: "We could probably last two." The truth is that the Palestinian Authority can exist as a non-Islamist polity only if Israel protects it.
If the Jews pull back, then the militant Muslim faithful will probably wipe away the secular Palestinian elite of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Israelis are providing West Bank Palestinians with protection from the ongoing implosion of the Muslim Arab world.
The Israelis rarely take credit for maintaining Fatah's supremacy (which would further vitiate the group's legitimacy), while the Palestinian Authority lambasts the Israelis for a wide variety of sins. Yet Israel's presence on the West Bank, however offensive it may be to Muslim sensibilities and pride, is the only power that has given some stability, structure, economic vitality, and flashes of free speech to Palestinians. The writer, a former CIA case officer in the Middle East, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
How U.S. Abstention at UN Broke with Past U.S. Policy - Peter Berkowitz (RealClearPolitics)
- Addressing the UN Security Council to explain America's abstention on Resolution 2334, Ambassador Samantha Power stated, "Our vote today is fully in line with the bipartisan history of how American presidents have approached both the issue - and the role of this body." That's false.
- While previous administrations have criticized settlements as bad policy, it is the Obama administration that deviates from longstanding American practice by maintaining that every last inch of the West Bank is lawfully Palestinian land.
- In the very 1982 address on the Middle East that Power cites in defense of Resolution 2334, President Reagan declared, "In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel's population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again."
- Moreover, the peace agreement that President Clinton negotiated at the July 2000 Camp David summit, as well as the December 2000 Clinton parameters, envisaged Israel retaining control of population centers beyond the Green Line.
- So did President George W. Bush's 2004 letter of understanding to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which explicitly rejected a return to the 1967 lines.
- UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) both recognized that the 1949 lines were not sacrosanct.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
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