News Digest — 12/16/22

Netanyahu Tells Saudi Outlet, Deal With Riyadh Would Be ‘Quantum Leap’ For Peace

Israel’s designated prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday (15th) vowed to seek full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia once he takes office, claiming that doing so would also promote peace with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu also said he would be open to restarting behind-the-scenes talks with the Palestinians.

The comments, made in a rare interview with an Arab news outlet, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, appeared to be aimed at easing concerns over the government that Netanyahu is forming with the Religious Zionist Party.  Netanyahu told the channel that he will set the overall policies.

“I will govern and I will lead,” he said.  “The other parties are joining me, I’m not joining them.”

Netanyahu said he hoped to expand the Abraham Accords – a set of normalization agreements reached with four Arab countries in 2020 – by reaching a similar deal with Saudi Arabia.

“It will be a quantum leap for an overall peace between Israel and the Arab world,” he said.  “It will change our region in ways that are unimaginable.  And I think it will facilitate, ultimately, a Palestinian-Israeli peace.  I believe in that, and I intend to pursue it.”

“Of course, it is up to the leadership of Saudi Arabia if they want to partake in this effort,” he added.  “I certainly hope they will.”

Israel has long-had behind-the-scenes contacts with Saudi Arabia – based largely on their shared animosity to Iran.  But the Saudis have said full diplomatic relations will only come once an independent Palestinian state is established on territories Israel won in the 1967 Mideast War, when the Jewish state was attacked by the surrounding Arab countries intent on destroying it.

Netanyahu said he would seek peace with the Palestinians, perhaps through discreet negotiations, but he refused to endorse a two-state solution, calling instead for “a fresh view” and creative thinking.

During Netanyahu’s previous 12-year stint as prime minister, which ended last year, peace talks ground to a halt.

The Palestinians seek Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip for a future state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Netanyahu gave few specifics on his vision of peace, but made clear it would fall short of Palestinian demands.

“I would say that the Palestinians should have in a final settlement all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers to threaten the survival and existence of the State of Israel,” he said.

Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas’ office declined to comment on Netanyahu’s remarks.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has reached a series of coalition deals, but still has not finalized an agreement.  He has until December 21 to form a government.



‘Jews Don’t Need Your Approval To Be In Jerusalem’

The rabbi charged with administering the Western Wall Plaza excoriated United Nations Ambassadors from four countries who boycotted a visit to the holy site. 

A week ago, the United Nations’ ambassadors from Italy, Romania, Slovenia, and Moldova dropped out of a group visit to the Western Wall, after the European Union ordered representatives of member states not to participate in any Israeli-hosted tour of eastern Jerusalem.

The representatives of seven other nations took part in the visit as planned.  They included ambassadors from Thailand, Costa Rica, Belize, Serbia, Georgia, Haiti and Sierra Leone.

On Friday (9th), Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch of the Western Wall, blasted the boycott in an open letter.

“It was with extreme dismay that I heard of your decision not to attend the official tour of the Western Wall given by the State of Israel for ambassadors.  The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  Your decision to ‘avoid’ the tour was a resounding victory for evil, a choice that is deeply upsetting.”

“The Jewish nation does not need anyone’s approval for its eternal connection with Jerusalem and the Western Wall.  This is a bond of thousands of years that was shaped by the love of a nation for its God and forged through the fire of destruction.  It is a bond that is validated every single day by unusual archeological findings from the days of ancient kings of Judah, discovered in the earth of Jerusalem.  Had you joined the tour, you would have seen them yourself.”

Cynical people have been spreading the disdainful libel that the Jewish nation is threatening the Temple Mount and Jerusalem’s peace.  They have been doing so since 1929.  The truth is quite the contrary.  The Jewish nation is the only one in the last two-thousand years under whose sovereignty there is real and complete freedom of religion for all.”

What was done cannot be undone.  Your choice was made and its echoes were heard around the world.  But if the welfare of Jerusalem is indeed dear to you, if you actually wish to partner with those from all religions who sincerely wish to make Jerusalem a city of peace, then you must stand by historic, archeological, and cultural truth and see the Israeli tolerance and acceptance of all religions in Jerusalem.”



IDF General: Drones Crucial In Almost All Israeli Missions

Drones have a crucial impact on almost every single offensive or defensive operation in which the IDF is involved, Artillery Commander Brig.-Gen. Neri Horovitz said at the 40th graduation ceremony for drone pilots.

“In nearly every operational event, whether offensive or defensive, a drone is involved,” said Horovitz at the ceremony Wednesday (14th), with his comments only released Thursday (15th).

Horovitz also said that due to the huge success and impact of drones, they have added new and additional categories of drone units to keep up with the military’s needs.

Palmachim Base Commander Brig.-Gen. Omri Dor said that he was pleased that recently the country and the IDF finally permitted publicizing its use of drones after years of keeping the well-known “secret” at least partially obscured from the public’s view.

Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar said that drones had been vital in recent weeks for following and capturing terrorists in the West Bank to try to gain control over the waves of terror which Israel has been experiencing cyclically since March of this year.

Further, he said that all recent operations against Hamas in Gaza were heavily dependent on drones for collecting intelligence, targeting Hamas personnel exactly, while avoiding collateral harm to civilians, and essentially, for keeping up a pace of attacks that would deter Hamas from future rounds of fighting.

Those graduating from the course have already completed six months of general drone training.

Next they have three months of more specialized drone training after which they are placed in various drone operational units.



‘No Justice’ – PA To Be Sued At ICC By Slain Activist’s Family

The family of a Palestinian political activist who was severely beaten by Palestinian Authority security forces and later died in their custody announced its intention to sue the PA at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday (15th).

Nizar Banat, a well-known critic of embattled PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas, died after his house was stormed by PA police in June 2021.

The raid occurred after Banat posted several videos on Facebook slamming Abbas’ cancellation of elections, urging the European Union to cut off aid to the PA until it agreed to uphold its obligations to the democratic process, and noting widespread corruption in the entity.

Armed men forced their way into Banat’s home, punched, kicked and stomped on him in front of his family, then dragged him away into a waiting vehicle.  Several hours later, the PA said that Banat had died in a laconic statement.

Banat’s death sparked widespread outrage and street protests which is an unusual occurrence in PA-controlled cities.

“We demand justice for a man who was doing nothing but speaking the truth.” said attorney for the Banat family, Hakan Camuz, in a public statement.

A poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted shortly after Banat’s death found that 63% of Palestinians believe that he was “deliberately” killed by the PA.

Banat’s brother, Ghassan, told AFP that the family had little faith in the Palestinian justice system, which is the reason why they turned to the ICC for accountability regarding his death.

“There is no enforcement of justice,” he said.  “We understood that the regime of the Palestinian Authority, the police, the security officers, have more authority than the courts – that they were above the courts.”

“That is why we have decided to move on to the international arena.”

He added that he believed his brother had been assassinated by the PA in a pre-planned attack because he “challenged Mahmoud Abbas and was telling people the truth about the real situation of the Palestinian Authority.”

It remains to be seen if the ICC will accept the Banat family’s case.



Teaching Terror To Tots – Itamar Marcus

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) recently published a report on Fatah’s Waed magazine for children ages 6-15.  The messages for Palestinian children spread through the last eight years of Waed, confirm that the PA/Fatah end game remains Israel’s destruction and replacement by “Palestine.”

The magazine has been teaching Palestinian children that: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” after “the Zionist invaders will go to the garbage can of history” because “the period of Zionism will eventually pass.”  As a last step, all “the Jewish settlers in Palestine will disappear.  The liberation of Palestine will only be achieved through armed struggle.”

The children are taught that they have to take the responsibility to bring about a future world “without Israel.”

If no action is taken to combat the PA/Fatah education of hate and terror, it will continue to be the driving force for Palestinian Children, leading to violence for generations.



London Eye To Be Transformed Into Giant Menorah

The London Eye will be transformed into a giant menorah in celebration of Hanukkah for the second year in a row.

The 400-foot tall Ferris wheel will light up the sky on December 22, the fifth night of Hanukkah, according to the UK Jewish News which is sponsoring the event along with the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC).

The 32-pod revolving observation wheel on the south bank of the River Thames was previously turned into a menorah last year.

The 443-foot tall attraction was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel from 1999 until 2006, when the taller Star of Nanchang in Nanchang, China opened.  The popular tourist attraction, The London Eye, sees approximately three million visitors a year.

The cantilevered observation wheel still holds the record as the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.

The co-CEO of the JLC, Michelle Janes told the Jewish News that the giant menorah is an “important statement in our multicultural city” and that “our Hanukkiah will be standing alongside the iconic Christmas tree at this time of the year.”

Hanukkah begins Sunday evening the 18th and ends Monday evening the 26th.