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Abbas Meets Egyptian Delegation to Discuss Palestinian Reconciliation with Hamas

September 2, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Can the Palestinians reunite with Egypt’s help? Illustrative photo of Palestinian event. By Joshua Spurlock

The Egyptians are working to fix the ongoing rift between the Hamas terrorist group that controls Gaza and the Palestinian Authority—led by President Mahmoud Abbas and controlling territory in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank)—and to that end Abbas met with their delegation to talk on Saturday. The Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank have been controlled by rival factions since 2007, when Hamas threw the PA out of Gaza in a violent coup. Since then, multiple attempts to reconcile the sides—considered by some to be a key step before the Palestinians can sign a lasting peace deal with Israel but what also could reintegrate a recognized terrorist group into the official Palestinian government—have faltered.

The latest effort by Egypt included a visit by members of the Egyptian General Intelligence with Abbas in his de facto capital of Ramallah, according to the WAFA Palestinian News Agency. The meeting and PA leader Abbas’ direct involvement comes just days after United States Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt slammed the PA for their lack of involvement in finding a solution for Gaza. The White House Special Representative for International Negotiations, in a State Department press release last week, told the PA to get involved in fixing Gaza or “others will fill that void.” Greenblatt also said the Donald Trump Administration “strongly supports” Egyptian efforts ‎to “help facilitate an agreement to restore calm in Gaza and bring about the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza.” … Continue Reading

Speaking at Nuclear Facility, Netanyahu Hints at Threat to Iran of Mutually-Assured Destruction

August 29, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Israel is working hard to counter Iran’s nuclear threat. Illustrative photo of Netanyahu discussing Iran’s “secret nuclear files”. Photo courtesy of: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Israel’s highest leaders have never officially and publically admitted to having an arsenal of nuclear weapons, which are believed to be held as a deterrent and have never been used in combat. However, with the Iranian regime threatening to wipe out Israel while angling for nuclear weapons of their own, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a strong—if intentionally vague—defensive threat of his own.

Speaking at a ceremony renaming a nuclear research center in honor of former President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu warned Iran and noted, “Whoever threatens us with destruction puts himself in similar danger, and in any case will not achieve his goal.” That sounds similar to the “mutually-assured destruction” doctrine held by the Russians and the United States during the Cold War, in which both sides effectively had the capability of destroying the opposing side with nuclear weapons, thereby deterring both nations from deploying the nukes.

Netanyahu, in the comments on Wednesday released by his office, also made it clear that reports of Iran’s military cooperation agreement with Syria would not prevent Israel from acting to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Israel’s northern neighbor. … Continue Reading

US Creates Government Group to ‘Drive Daily Progress’ on Change in Iranian Regime Behavior

August 22, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Israel and the US agree on Iran. Meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem. Illustrative. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom GPO

The United States is determined to push for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called “major changes” in the behavior of the Iranian regime—including their nuclear and missile activities and their support for terrorism—and so he recently announced the formation of the Iran Action Group at the State Department to focus on this effort. “Our hope is that one day soon we can reach a new agreement with Iran,” said Pompeo in a Department press release on August 16.

“But we must see major changes in the regime’s behavior both inside and outside of its borders. The Iranian people and the world are demanding that Iran finally act like a normal nation. The Iran Action Group will drive daily progress on these objectives and I hope do much more.”

Pompeo said that the Group would be “key” to working with other nations on countering the Iran threat, and they join what is already a robust effort. Just this week National Security Advisor John Bolton visited Israel with Iran on his mind. And Brian Hook, the new head of the Iran Action Group, was in London last week for “productive discussions” with European allies on Iran. “We will continue to build on those areas where we are in agreement with our allies and partners around the world and we will work to find consensus on those areas where we are not,” said Hook, in a separate press release last week. As Bolton saw firsthand, Israel already agrees. … Continue Reading

UN Chief Lists Int’l Troops as Means to Protect Palestinians the Same Day Gazans Riot against Israel

August 19, 2018 Peace and Conflict

United Nations vehicle. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

In the wake of months of arson attacks against Israel by kites sent from Gaza, hundreds of rocket attacks from Hamas on Israeli civilians and regular Gaza border riots, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listed international troops as an option to defend the Palestinians—from Israel. The Ma’an News Agency said that a report published on Friday by Guterres provided four possible methods to protect Palestinians—which the UN chief acknowledged is “highly complex.” One such option was armed UN peacekeepers or troops from “like-minded states” under a UN mandate to provide “physical protection.” Other options included additional aid and UN observers.

Yet the same day the report was released, it was Israel who was once again in need of self-defense. The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed reported that “thousands of Palestinians rioted along the security fence with Gaza, hurling several firebombs” and explosive devices on Friday, along with multiple infiltrations into Israel by suspects who quickly retreated back into Gaza. This is nothing new. Israel has spent months defending their border with Gaza from hordes of violent Palestinians interspersed with Hamas terrorists. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that it’s not Israel who is threatening the Palestinians—it’s their own leadership, including the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority (PA). … Continue Reading

Israel Lightens Restrictions on Gaza to Emphasize ‘Calm Is Better than Violence’

August 15, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Illustrative example of goods shipped to Gaza. Photo courtesy of the Israel Tax Authority.

With multiple days of general quiet on the Gaza border, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Facebook on Wednesday the re-opening of the Israel-Gaza border crossing back to its normal function “as a clear message for Gaza population: calm is better than violence.” Lieberman’s statement, posted in Arabic and translated into English on the Facebook page of Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) authority that works with the Palestinians on the ground, said that Gazans would “win” when Israelis have calm and “lose when #chaos prevails.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed in a series of posts on Wednesday that the Kerem Shalom border crossing would “be re-opened this morning for full activity” and that the fishing zone of Gaza’s coast would be expanded out to nine nautical miles.

The relaxing of restrictions comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing in July in an effort to curb Hamas terrorism with economic sanctions. For months, Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip have been launching attacks at Israel in the form of rockets, fire kites, and attempts to breach the border crossing to invade Israel. In recent weeks, there have been multiple upticks in rocket violence, prior to the latest period of calm. … Continue Reading

Gaza Unleashes Rockets at Israeli Civilians, IDF Responds

August 8, 2018 Peace and Conflict

Hamas firing rockets at Israel again. Illustrative results of Gaza attack. Photo Courtesy of IDF Spokesperson.

The day started ominously, with Hamas terrorists abandoning outposts to apparently escape potential IDF fire, and like the calm before the storm, the rain of rockets followed. More than 70 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in a six-hour stretch starting on Wednesday, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed, with rocket sirens warning of potentially more attacks. The tweet featured a graphic showing 19 different Israeli towns in which rocket sirens had sounded in the onslaught—and the rockets were hitting civilian targets.

Magen David Adom paramedics tweeted about multiple injuries occurring in the town of Sderot at multiple sites, while the IDF Spokesperson posted a video showing a playground damaged by rocket fire as one example of the day’s hits.

“Tonight, Hamas fired rockets at this playground in Sderot, Israel, which is home to 25,000 people. They’re innocent mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. The Hamas terrorist organization looks at Sderot from the Gaza Strip and sees 25,000 targets,” tweeted the video caption. The IDF did not take the barrage lightly, responding in force against Hamas.

… Continue Reading

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