Thursday, February 09, 2017
AHEAD OF 1ST TRUMP MEETING-NETANYAHU KEEPS HIS CARDS CLOSE TO HIS CHEST.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)
47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE
Analysis-Ahead of first Trump meet, Netanyahu keeps his cards close to his chest-While new US administration expects to learn how Israel wants to advance the peace process, PM seems set to defend the status quo-By Raphael Ahren February 8, 2017, 6:54 am-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was still airborne, making his way back to Jerusalem from a one-day visit to London, when the Knesset passed the so-called Regulation Law late Monday night.Cynics could claim that Netanyahu deliberately delayed his departure from Heathrow in order to miss the vote, so that when the day comes and the International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants over this controversial law, the prime minister can argue that he did not vote for it.Indeed, while Netanyahu had earlier on Monday expressed support for the controversial legislation, which retroactively legalizes West Bank outposts built on private Palestinian land, he has been very wary of it. On Monday, he said he was acting in the “national interest” in advancing the bill, but in the not too distant past he had still tried to bury it.In 2012, during an earlier attempt to to pass the same law, Netanyahu threatened to fire every minister who voted in favor of it.In late November of 2016, after the idea to “regulate” illegal West Bank outposts had resurfaced in the face of the looming evacuation of Amona, he reportedly argued it could lead Israeli leaders into the dock at the ICC.Even on Sunday, after he himself announced plans to pass the bill in order to “normalize the status of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria once and for all and prevent recurrent attempts to harm the settlement enterprise,” he reportedly tried to postpone the vote until after his February 15 meeting with US President Donald Trump.On Monday, however, after Israel’s envoy to Washington, Ron Dermer, updated the White House, the prime minister gave the green light and the law was approved, in his absence, 60 to 52.Why did Netanyahu discard his own declared concerns and back the contentious law? For one, he knows it will almost certainly be overturned by the courts. He will have to weather a few days of heavy international criticism but he knows no Israeli would be tried in The Hague over legislation the country’s own legal system had stopped before it could be implemented.Furthermore, the prime minister likely wanted to placate the right-wing’s anger over last week’s evacuation of Amona, a 20-year-old West Bank outpost that was built on private Palestinian land. That’s also why he announced the establishment of a new settlement in the West Bank and the construction of more than 6,000 new housing units in existing settlements.Netanyahu is also trying to gauge the new US administration. No one knows what Trump really thinks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the settlement enterprise, and so the prime minister is pushing the envelope to see how far he can go with moves other countries say question Israel’s commitment to peace.During a briefing to the traveling press in London, Netanyahu said he had made sure not to “surprise” the Americans about the Regulation Law, but insisted he did not ask them for permission. The White House was informed about the settlement expansion plans and the new law, he explained, but Jerusalem did not coordinate these moves with the administration.Ahead of Trump’s meeting with Netanyahu next Wednesday, the US is not publicly taking a stand on the planned new West Bank housing or the Regulation Law. “That’ll obviously be a topic of discussion,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday, refusing to comment beyond that.Recent statements from administration officials indicate that Trump disapproves of Israel building more settlements and tends to support a two-state solution.“We don’t believe that the existence of current settlements is an impediment to peace,” Spicer had said Friday, “but I think the construction or expansion of existing settlements beyond the current borders is not going to be helpful moving forward.”The website of the US Embassy to Israel has been updated recently to reflect that Dan Shapiro is no longer the ambassador, and that his deputy, Leslie Tsou, became Chargé d’Affaires ad interim on the day of Trump’s inauguration.However, the embassy’s website still states that the US remains committed “to realizing the vision of a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel.”Netanyahu, meanwhile, keeps his cards close to the chest. During Monday’s meeting with his British counterpart, Theresa May, he vowed to “never give up on our quest for peace with all of our neighbors.” He acknowledged “challenges” but then spoke about “some new and interesting opportunities” that arose in the wake of “regional and global changes.”It was unclear what exactly he had in mind. But unlike May, who reiterated the UK’s support for the two-state solution, Netanyahu failed to explicitly endorse it. During the briefing with reporters that followed his 10 Downing Street talks, the prime minister said his position has not changed, but also painstakingly avoided any reference to Palestinian statehood or even of the idea of two states for two peoples.He does note that he has not changed his longstanding position — that any peace agreement be conditioned on Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and an ongoing Israeli security presence in all of the West Bank.Peace has remained elusive for one reason, the prime minister said Tuesday during a meeting with his Belgian counterpart, Charles Michel, back home in Jerusalem: the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundaries. “This is the core of our particular conflict,” Netanyahu said. “I look forward to the day when we have Palestinians who are willing to recognize, finally, the Jewish state. That will be the beginning of peace and a great step forward to achieving it.”Since Trump won the US elections, Israel politicians from the left and the right have argued that Netanyahu will now be forced to specify what he really envisions for the future of the conflict with the Palestinians.His right-wing coalition partners (or rivals) expect him to publicly abandon the two-state solution and declare his intention to annex parts or all of the West Bank. “Netanyahu for the first time will have to say to President Trump what he wants. The new administration wants to hear our vision,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett told The Times of Israel in a recent interview.The left, too, believes Netanyahu will no longer be able to hide his true intentions and will have to clearly state what policies he intends to pursue now that he’s no longer pressured by a US president who knew exactly what he wanted Israel to do.With Trump likely to give Israel more leeway than Obama, Jerusalem will have to lay down its positions, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said recently. “If Israel can really do whatever it wants — it’s time that Israel decide what it wants.” The government will no longer be able to portray the White House as the “bad cop” coercing decisions opposed by its right-wing base, she said.Netanyahu and his aides are preparing feverishly for next Wednesday’s meeting in the Oval Office. The Israeli delegation wants Iran to top the agenda, but Trump and his advisers will also seek to discuss the peace process and learn how exactly Israel wants to move forward. Even Netanyahu’s own defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, has argued that Israel needs to coordinate its position on settlements with the new administration. The key to the future of the settlements lies in “understandings with the United States, not only our desire,” Liberman said in early December. “We’re not in a vacuum.”For now, Netanyahu is maintaining radio silence on what he plans to tell the new president. It’s possible that he will present a new paradigm for the Middle East, perhaps adjusting or even abrogating his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech, in which he accepted the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state.More likely, however, Netanyahu will repeat his in-principle endorsement of the two-state solution, with the caveat that it can only be implemented on the ground when the Palestinians radically change their approach and agree to make the concessions he requires of them.Israel will never cease pursuing peace, Netanyahu can be expected to say during the public part of the White House meeting. But given the Palestinians’ recalcitrance and the turmoil sweeping the Middle East, he will probably add behind closed doors, there’s no deal to be had in foreseeable future.In other words, even in the age of Donald Trump, Netanyahu’s immediate goal seems to be the maintenance of the status quo.
Analysis-The true significance of Israel’s settlement legalization law-The flurry of hand-wringing over the Regulation Law has largely missed what may be its most dramatic consequence — that it makes it harder for Israel to stick to its longstanding policy of permanent indecision in the West Bank-By Haviv Rettig Gur February 7, 2017, 8:50 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Criticism of the Regulation Law that passed Monday in the Knesset has been visceral and widespread. It comes from Israeli politicians on the deepest left as well as the right, from Palestinian officials as well as pro-Israel advocates, from European and Muslim-world governments as well as Israel’s own attorney general, and even from some Knesset Members who actually voted for it.All seem to believe the law, which authorizes retroactively Israeli settlement homes built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land, is a watershed moment in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But with so many voices vying to explain precisely why it is so bad, it can be easy to miss, or to misunderstand, the indigenous Israeli political impulses that forged it, and thus to misrepresent what it means for Israel’s presence in the West Bank.In an important sense, the Regulation Law changes very little. Under Jordanian land law that still applies in the West Bank – Israel never applied its own civil law, and so the territory is run under a combination of various legal systems imposed by past rulers and IDF orders issued since 1967 – the governing authority in the territory is already permitted to seize privately owned land for public benefit. The Jordanian law is far more expansive and permissive as to what constitutes “public benefit” than is Israeli civil law within Israel’s borders, and more even than what Israel’s military administration has actually done in the West Bank.And so the new Regulation Law does not, as often claimed, suddenly allow the Civil Administration, the Israeli agency administering the West Bank under the army’s auspices, to seize private property for Israeli settlements. The Civil Administration is already allowed to do so, at least on paper, and leaving out for the moment the rather significant question of international law and its obligations. Rather, the Regulation Law requires that it do so.In places where Israelis built settlements on privately held Palestinian property in good faith – i.e., without knowing it was privately owned – or received the government’s de facto consent for squatting there, the Civil Administration is now forced to carry out the seizure in the squatters’ name in exchange for state compensation to the owners equal to 20 years’ rent or 125 percent of the assessed value of the land.Here lies the most important fact of the law from the perspective of the internal Israeli debate: that it is not actually directed against the Palestinian owners (though, of course, it affects them most of all), but against the Israeli state.For decades, the Israeli left accused state agencies of coddling and abetting the settlement movement. In 2005, the government of Ariel Sharon published the Sasson Report, written by a former senior state prosecutor, Talia Sasson, that detailed these agencies’ collusion in illegal building in the West Bank.As one right-wing supporter of the Regulation Law noted to The Times of Israel this week, the first few hundred homes built in the Ofra settlement in the northern West Bank during the 1980s and 1990s were constructed without appropriate zoning or approval of any kind.But in the wake of the report, and in keeping with the policies of various governments since the late 1990s, enforcement of zoning and planning requirements has grown much more stringent. It is no longer easy to build without permission in places like Ofra or Beit El. Critics of the settlements talk constantly about their unrelenting growth, but actual residents of the more ideologically rooted settlements nestled deep within the West Bank feel the opposite, that their growth is being choked by a state that even under right-wing rule views them as an enemy.Ironically, nowhere is this tension between the settlement movement and the state clearer than in the way the law justifies the seizure of land. To authorize the seizure, article 3 of the law requires that either of two conditions be met: the aforementioned “good faith” requirement, “or that the state gave its agreement to the [settlement’s] establishment.”This is an important “or,” as it means seizure is possible even in bad faith, where the land was explicitly settled in the full knowledge that it was privately owned by Palestinians, as long as state support can be demonstrated.And article 2 of the law ensures that it won’t be hard to demonstrate such support. It defines “agreement of the state” thus: “Explicitly or implicitly, beforehand or after the fact, including assistance in laying infrastructures, granting incentives, planning, publicity intended to encourage building or development, or financial or in-kind participation” in the settlement’s establishment.If any state agency paved a road, provided electricity or, arguably, merely sent security or law enforcement forces to protect a settlement, the squatters may be able to claim “agreement of the state.”The Sasson Report put the question of unacknowledged government assistance to illegal settlement construction on the national agenda as an explicit first step to stopping that assistance. The Regulation Law flips that intention on its head, turning that governmental support into the legal reasoning for retroactively authorizing the very construction the report was intended to help freeze.It is hard to imagine that this perfect inversion of the Sasson Report is accidental. The Regulation Law’s earliest drafts were written by advisers to Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich, the former head of Regavim, an Israeli right-wing advocacy group that works on issues of land rights and settlements. That is, it was formulated by lawyers deeply familiar with the issues and questions raised by the Sasson Report, and with Israeli settlement policy since its publication.-‘Occupied’-For Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, however, the problems posed by the law go deeper than this cantankerous shot across the bow of the left-right culture war.In its very first sentence, the law proclaims: “The purpose of this law is to bring order to the settlement in Judea and Samaria and to allow its continued establishment and development.”For 50 years, Israel has officially argued that the West Bank is not “occupied” as the term is understood in the Fourth Geneva Convention, but merely “disputed.” The legal reason – that the Convention defines as “occupied” only tracts of land taken by a state in wartime from another state that had sovereignty there; the West Bank was not sovereign Jordanian territory when Israel captured it from Jordan in 1967 – may be convincing to many Israelis, but sways almost no one else on Earth.This argument also has the thorny disadvantage of leaving unanswered the rather fundamental question of what, exactly, is the status of millions of Palestinians living in this non-occupied territory who are not, and don’t want to be – and Israelis don’t want them to be – citizens of Israel.Since 1967, Israel’s response, both in international forums and to its own High Court, has been to distinguish between the people and the land, applying to the Palestinian population, but not to the land, the protections of “occupation” granted by the Fourth Geneva Convention. (This distinction is not wholly innovative. The Convention’s own broad definition of “protected persons” is, simply, “those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.”) Mandelblit’s complaint is a simple one. The Regulation Law charges into this delicate and, for Israel, indispensable legal construct like a bull in a china shop. It marks the first direct Knesset legislation of a civil law that applies directly to Palestinians in the West Bank, and it does so without even conferring on them, as Israel did in the past in East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, the broader edifice and legal protections of Israeli civil law more generally.“A state can only legislate where it is sovereign,” Talia Sasson told The Times of Israel in an interview Tuesday. “The basic theory is that the people are sovereign, we choose representatives and they decide the way we behave within this [sovereign] territory.”So, for example, the Israeli Knesset does not have the authority to legislate traffic laws in Paris or zoning rules in London. Law follows sovereignty.“So this law that claims to apply outside Israeli [sovereign] territory cannot be a constitutional law,” said Sasson, who now chairs the board of the left-wing New Israel Fund.And it is why the law is sure to be struck down by the High Court of Justice, she predicted. “If I’m a High Court justice, my first question to the state’s attorney [defending the law] would be, ‘Explain to me not what claims we have to the territory – that’s not the question here – but by what authority'” Israel is legislating a civil law there without first defining the territory as subject to Israeli civil law, with all the ramifications such a designation would carry.The Regulation Law is a potential watershed moment not because of the powers it confers or the requirements it demands of state bodies, but for the simple fact that it appears to penetrate this carefully constructed legal membrane between democratic, sovereign Israel on the one hand, and the occupied – or at least, under the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory, specially protected as though occupied – Palestinian population on the other.Tear down this barrier, this legal balancing act that has endured for five decades, and Israel faces a stark question: Why are some of the people living under the civil control of the Israeli state enfranchised as full citizens, but others are not? Critics of Israel scoff at such legalisms. Fifty years after the Six Day War in 1967, they ask, isn’t that the de facto situation of the Palestinians in any case? Yet within the Israeli discourse, in Israeli law and judicial precedent, the West Bank’s liminalism is seen as a fundamental protection for Israeli democracy. The Palestinians have not been naturalized, Israeli governments and courts have been insisting for decades, only because we are holding out for peace and separation. Their condition is provisional, temporary, even if its resolution has been long in coming.If you rob me of that argument, if there is no longer a clear distinction between the legal status of sovereign Israeli territory and that of the West Bank, Mandelblit has told lawmakers in recent months during debates about the law, how will I continue to defend Israel’s current policy in the West Bank? If the Palestinians can now be subjected directly to Israeli civil law, how much longer will we be able to continue justifying the fact that they cannot vote for the body that creates that law? -‘Inhabitants’-None of this is lost on the bill’s supporters. Nor are they unaware that the law is all but certain to be struck down by the High Court of Justice.Yet the campaign by the Jewish Home party and Likud’s rightist flank to advance the law, which was resisted even by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was worth the trouble and potential fallout, they feel, because of the vital message it is meant to convey.International law requires that an “occupying power” care for the needs of the inhabitants of a captured or occupied area. Over the past 20 years, Israeli governments have assiduously avoided carrying out significant seizures of privately owned Palestinian land solely for the benefit of Israeli settlements, such as the construction of access roads to such settlements.As Mandelblit himself has argued to any lawmaker who would listen, Israeli authorities in the West Bank have clung to a consistent policy of only seizing privately owned Palestinian land in cases where the land’s public use will also, or even primarily, benefit the local Palestinian population.One supporter of the Regulation Law familiar with its development told The Times of Israel this week that “the net result of this Israeli policy is that we accept a legal interpretation that sees the Israeli population [in the West Bank] as not part of its ‘inhabitants.’ That includes Israelis who have lived there for 40 years.”Here lies the deeper message, the statement of principle that makes palatable the legal risks and diplomatic fallout, even if the law is ultimately overturned by the High Court: that the Israeli population in the West Bank belongs there, that its presence is legitimate and just, that they are as much the “inhabitants” of Judea and Samaria as the Palestinians.This is not a message intended for foreign audiences, but for Israelis, and especially for government officials who, in practice, and despite often extravagant proclamations otherwise, seem to doubt the point.This is the strange irony at the heart of the Regulation Law: that it is less a reliable signal of what the future holds for Israel’s policy in the West Bank – no one who voted for it expects it to survive the High Court challenge – and more a reflection of the deep sense of alienation and vulnerability that permeates the very settlements that, superficially at least, appear so empowered by its passage.
Lawmakers approve publication of report on Gaza war tunnel threat-Information on Hamas attack tunnels will now be included in State Comptroller document set to be released in coming weeks-By Times of Israel staff February 7, 2017, 10:56 pm
Lawmakers approved on Tuesday the publication of a section of the State Comptroller’s report detailing how Israel handled the threat of Hamas attack tunnels during the 2014 Gaza war.This section had previously been designated classified when the rest of the report was authorized for release last month by the subcommittee on classified information, part of the Knesset’s State Control Committee.The report relates to how the security cabinet of top-level ministers handled itself in the run up and during Operation Protective Edge.MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid), who chairs the State Control Committee, said some parts of the section on the tunnels would still be redacted as it contained “information that can be used against us.”Nevertheless, she said, the parts to be published will still reflect the findings of the full report.Elharar also said that the decision to approve for publication the parts of the report dealing with the tunnel threat was made following “the recommendation of the State Comptroller and in coordination with security officials.”She also said that she hopes State Comptroller Yosef Shapira will publish the report sometime in the coming weeks. No date has been given for the document’s release.Portions of the State Comptroller’s report that have been leaked to the press have so far painted a damning picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon’s failure to properly inform the security cabinet of the extent of the threat emanating from Hamas’s cross-border tunnels.According to some of the leaks, the report is said to show bitter infighting among members of the security cabinet, especially between Ya’alon and then-economy minister Naftali Bennett.Part of the criticism, especially by Bennett, was already voiced during the war itself, during which he took to visiting frontline army units and discussing the war’s progress with officers in the field.Bennett, who has since moved on to the position of education minister, maintains that he became aware of the urgency of dealing with cross-border tunnels — an issue that became the war’s main goal in its final weeks — outside the confines of cabinet discussions, including during his conversations with IDF officers, and that the threat posed by the tunnels was not properly discussed or understood in the security cabinet’s meetings.Netanyahu and Ya’alon have denied Bennett’s claims, and criticized as “populist” his public excoriation of the army’s strategy while fighting was still underway in Gaza.Both Bennett and then-finance minister Yair Lapid, another critic of Netanyahu’s handling of the wartime cabinet, have pushed for the Knesset to make the comptroller’s findings public, while coalition officials, particularly those close to the prime minister, have fought against releasing the report.On Sunday, members of the subcommittee wrote Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit a letter asking him to open an “urgent inquiry” into the leaks, saying that “they may harm fundamental national interests, undermine [the subcommittee’s] classified work and its ability to make decision as required under law.”
Elite Hamas fighters defecting to Islamic State-Despite losing a number of its top commandos, the Gaza-based terror organization continues to work with IS on smuggling, other fields-By Avi Issacharoff February 7, 2017, 9:00 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
A member of Hamas’s naval commando unit defected from the Gaza-based terror organization nearly a year ago to join the Sinai Province — the Islamic State group’s branch in the Sinai Peninsula, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel.Abed al-Wahad Abu Aadara, 20, from the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, was arrested approximately two months ago by Hamas while visiting Gaza due to his affiliation with IS. He has since been freed.Although Abu Aadara is not the first Hamas operative to defect to IS, he is the first known member of the group’s naval commando unit to join its ranks.The weeks following Abu Aadara’s arrest were marked by a dramatic increase in tensions between Hamas and IS, due in large part to the arrest of Gaza-based operatives identified with the group, as well as the reduction in the volume of goods being smuggled to the Gaza Strip from Sinai, which IS used as a means of pressuring Hamas in response to the arrests.However, due to the recent rapprochement between the two groups, in particular relating to smuggling from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip, Abu Aadara has now been released from one of Hamas’s prisons in Gaza.Abu Aadara began his career with Hamas as a member of the group’s elite Nukhba unit and was later selected as a naval commando.Abu Aadara’s brother, Mufleh, also joined IS after leaving the Gaza Strip for the Sinai Peninsula over a year and a half ago. He was later killed in Sinai, likely while fighting against the Egyptian army.Following his brother’s death, Abu Aadara decided to follow in his footsteps by joining IS, crossing the border into Sinai last March.In recent years Hamas has lost dozens of members of its military wing — the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades — to IS’s Sinai Province, including a number of its fighters from the elite Nukhba unit. Many of these operatives left for Sinai with their families and relatives and now serve as the Sinai Province’s main points of contact with Hamas. These defectors include a number of Hamas’s experts on operating anti-tank missiles and assembling roadside bombs, who have provided substantial assistance to IS in its war against the Egyptian army.Abed al-Hila al-Qishta, a former senior member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades before joining IS, was killed in December in an airstrike carried out against IS targets in Sinai, while Abu Malek Abu Shwiesh, who was a top assistant to the commander of Hamas’s military wing in the Rafah area, also reportedly defected to the Sinai Province.Despite the apparent trend of Hamas operatives leaving the group in favor of IS, the terror organization continues to cooperate with the Sinai Province, in particular in relation to smuggling from Sinai into Gaza. The leadership of Hamas’s military wing in the Rafah area is responsible for coordinating cooperation between Hamas and the Sinai Province in a number of areas, including on weapons smuggling and bringing injured IS operatives into Gaza for medical care.Although the Egyptian regime is fervently opposed to the cooperation between the two groups, it has taken steps towards reconciliation with Hamas. Just last week, a delegation of Hamas security officials visited Cairo for a series of meetings. The Hamas contingent was led by the deputy commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades Marwan Issa, considered the de facto chief of staff of Hamas’s military wing in light of the health troubles of current military head Muhammed Deif.
Hamas confirms it rejected Israeli prisoner exchange offer-Source says group demands release of all members freed in Shalit deal and rearrested in 2014 before talks can move forward, denies Egypt involved-By Avi Issacharoff and Jacob Magid February 8, 2017, 1:05 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Senior Hamas officials confirmed Wednesday that the terror group was in talks over a possible prisoner exchange with Israel, but said the deal had been rejected for not meeting their minimum demands.Reports have circulated in Israeli media in recent days of talks with Hamas to secure the release of three Israeli men who crossed into Gaza of their own accord, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima, whose presence in Gaza is unconfirmed. Hamas also holds the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who the army determined were killed in action in the 2014 Gaza war.A senior Hamas source told The Times of Israel that it wanted Israel to release 60 members of the terror group arrested after being freed in an earlier exchange.“Only after that can we move forward in the negotiations between the sides,” the source said.An Israeli source confirmed that talks were ongoing but said “we are not there yet.”A spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing said Israel’s offer had not met their “minimum threshold of demands,” Al-Jazeera reported.This was the first time confirmation was given by a senior official in Hamas’s military wing that such a deal had been offered, but the sides remain in the early stages of negotiating, according to the senior representative.The military wing official emphasized that Hamas was only interested in a “full exchange,” as opposed to the “partial” ones that Israel had previously offered in which one prisoner was to be exchanged for another.Israel, through a mediator, offered to release Hamas member Bilal Razaineh in return for either Mengistu or Sayed in what was described as a “humanitarian” exchange, as all three are considered to have psychological issues.Hamas demands that Israel release all prisoners from the 2011 exchange for Gilad Shalit who were rearrested in 2014 following the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank before any advancement in negotiations between the parties can take place.It was the latest in a series of reports that mediators — Egypt or Qatar, or both — are involved in negotiating a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel. Hamas officials have in the past alternately confirmed and denied the reports.Speaking to The Times of Israel, the senior Hamas source denied that Egypt was heavily involved in the talks.
Germany ‘disappointed,’ lost confidence in Israel after outpost law-Trust in Israel’s commitment to two-state solution ‘has been profoundly shaken’ by controversial legislation, Berlin says-By Raphael Ahren February 8, 2017, 12:20 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Germany on Wednesday harshly criticized Israel for passing the Regulation Law earlier this week, saying the new legislation undermines trust in Israel’s willingness to reach a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians.“The confidence we had in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been profoundly shaken,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said in a statement.“Only a negotiated two-state solution can bring durable peace and is in Israel’s interest. It remains a fundamental tenet of our Middle East policy.”On Monday night, the Knesset passed the controversial legislation in final readings, 60 to 52. The law, which is likely to be overturned by the High Court of Justice, would retroactively legalize Israeli West Bank outposts built on private Palestinian land.The law has been widely criticized by the international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, France, Britain, Turkey and others. Even some Israeli right-wingers opposed the law, including members of the governing coalition who voted in favor of it and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.“In view of the many reservations which the Israeli attorney general, among others, has affirmed once more, it would be good if the bill could soon undergo a critical legal review,” stated the Foreign Ministry in Germany, traditionally one of Israel’s staunchest allies in the international community. “We hope and expect that the Israeli government will renew its commitment to a negotiated two-state solution and underpin this with practical steps.”Noting that some Knesset members were preparing bills to annex parts of the West Bank, Berlin said that this was “now a question of credibility.”Many Germans who usually “stand firmly by Israel’s side in a spirit of heartfelt solidarity are disappointed” by the passing of this law, the statement said.Even MP Volker Beck, who heads the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group and is currently visiting Israel, criticized the law.“The Knesset’s decision worries me. This law is an attack on the two-state solution and a heavy hit against the credibility of the Israeli government,” he said in a statement issued Tuesday. There are no sound legal or political reasons for this legislation, Beck added, asking how the Knesset imagines a future Palestinian state living peacefully next to Israel if it was not allowed to have a contiguous territory.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears “weakened” by the corruption probes against him, rendering him unable to stop “hotheads and irresponsible members of his coalition,” Beck said. “For him, this is an act of weakness.”Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, whose Jewish Home party was the law’s staunchest supporter, is meeting Wednesday with her German counterpart Heiko Maas.On Sunday, the German parliament is scheduled to elect a new president. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is widely expected to win the election, will likely make Israel one of his first foreign destinations as the country’s new president.
Netanyahu to Belgium PM: Stop funding ‘anti-Israel’ groups-In Jerusalem meeting, PM asks Charles Michel to freeze payments, including indirect ones, to organizations that ‘act against IDF soldiers’-By Times of Israel staff February 7, 2017, 9:29 pm
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday asked his Belgian counterpart, Charles Michel, to defund organizations he described as anti-Israel or harmful to Israeli soldiers.During the meeting between the two leaders in Jerusalem, Netanyahu “demanded the Belgian government stop funding organizations that act against IDF soldiers and the State of Israel, including transferring funds indirectly,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.The request came a day after Netanyahu asked British Prime Minister Theresa May to halt funding for what he called nonprofit organizations that are “hostile to Israel.” May was set to conduct a “reexamination” of Britain’s approach to funding NGOs, Netanyahu told reporters accompanying him on an official visit to the UK.“I gave them [the British] the [names of] the various NGOs that the government of Britain funds, among them Breaking the Silence, and I asked her to stop funding them,” Netanyahu said.Breaking the Silence collects testimonies from former Israel Defense Forces soldiers about alleged human rights violations they witness in the Palestinian territories during their military service. It has often locked horns with the Israeli political and military brass and its numerous critics have denounced its reports as dishonest, inaccurate, and part of an advocacy campaign intended to harm Israel’s image overseas.When it was pointed out that the British government does not fund Breaking the Silence, the Prime Minister’s Office in Israel hurried to issue a clarification that said Britain funded Breaking the Silence and other NGOs indirectly, via organizations such as Christian Aid and CAFOD, the Catholic international development charity.During Tuesday’s meeting, Belgium’s Michel asked Netanyahu about the so-called Regulation Law, approved by the Knesset on Monday, which legalizes West Bank construction on privately owned Palestinian land. Israel has faced broad international criticism over the law, including from Britain, France, the United Nations and neighboring Jordan. The United States has not commented.“Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s stance that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace, and that the real obstacle is the Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any borders,” the PMO’s statement said.During his trip to the Jewish state, Michel also met with President Reuven Rivlin and young Belgians living in Israel. He also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial-Earlier in the day, Netanyahu told Michel that Israel’s fight against jihadist terrorism was preventing an even worse migrant crisis in Europe.AFP contributed to this report.
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