News Digest — 2/12/20

History Will Remember Abbas As Peace Rejectionist – UN Ambassador Danny Danon

Even before the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan was revealed earlier this month, Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas was planning his trip to New York City where he planned to address the United Nations to protest the plan’s outline, which the PA has rejected outright.

That is the Palestinian Leader’s modus operandi for the past 17 years and it has kept him on the wrong path of sparing no effort to fight Israel in the international arena, which at times seems to be his primary goal, something far more important to him than promoting Palestinian interests that could facilitate statehood.

But the Abbas era will soon end and when he steps down from the world stage, history will remember him as the greatest peace rejectionist that ever was.

Years of historical opportunities to strike peace – including and especially U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” – have come and gone, thrown away in favor of UN speeches and political terrorism against Israel in every forum and all over the world.

An individual who dedicates himself to incitement against Israel, to the indoctrination of children with hatred toward Israel and Jews, and who backs and sponsors the “pay-for-slay” policy, paying tens of millions of dollars to terrorists and their families, cannot be called a partner of peace.

Hundreds of anti-Israeli resolutions have been adopted by the UN General Assembly over the past decade, most at the behest of the Palestinians and Abbas.  During this time Abbas has agreed to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only once. Yes – just once.

There is no doubt that as long as Abbas heads the Palestinian Authority, the peace process is not feasible.

On Monday (10th), we again proved that the rules of the game at the UN have changed.  After much effort by Israel vis-a-vis many UN member-states, the Palestinian gambit to have the UN Security Council adopt a resolution condemning the U.S.’ Middle East peace plan was thwarted.

As Abbas addressed the Security Council on Tuesday (11th), he found few fans.  Unlike before, the international community has had enough of censures and condemnations.  Now it expects a direct dialogue between the two parties – between Ramallah and Jerusalem.



Abbas’ Palestinian Authority Hurts Everybody – Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser and Sander Gerber

→ The Palestinian Authority, established in 1994 in the Oslo Accords, was supposed to enable the Palestinians living in the territories to enjoy self-rule in a democratically functioning regime that respected their human and civil rights.  Additionally, the PA was supposed to lead the Palestinians toward a permanent peace with Israel through diplomatic negotiations.

→ Israel expected the PA to stop incitement to hatred and violence against it within Palestinian society.  The international community, led by the U.S., expected the PA to improve the economic situation of the Palestinians and they provided very generous financial and economic assistance.

→ The Oslo Peace Process never envisioned Israel or some other outside power fulfilling the aspirations and expectations of the Palestinian people for freedom, a decent political system, and economic prosperity.  Those needed to be fulfilled from inside Palestinian society. The total failure to fulfill those expectations, therefore, begins with the PA itself, which has proved to be deeply corrupt, incompetent, and undemocratic in the eyes of the people it purports to represent.

→ The PA has not held elections in 14 years; its elected parliament does not function.  Instead, it is governed by executive orders issued by a president who was elected in 2005.  The PA denies its Palestinian citizens basic human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech.  It tortures prisoners.

→ The Palestinian Authority uses international aid to eternalize the conflict by paying handsome salaries to terrorists and their families (about 7% of the PA’s annual budget).  It has misused the enormous foreign aid it received and has failed to translate this aid into building a successful economy.

→ The new U.S. peace plan, unlike any previous plan, tells the Palestinian Authority that if it does not choose to change in the coming four years, the U.S., Israel, and the pragmatic Arabs are not going to wait any longer and will not enable the PA to have veto power over their will to move forward.

→ Let us hope that this new peace paradigm, which is based on the realities on the ground, will help heal the wounds that the PA has inflicted on Palestinians, Israelis, moderate Arabs, and international donor countries, whose money has been spent on murder and hate – and help us build a road to peace.

Brig.Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser and Sander Gerber are fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.    



Iranians Rally, Mark Anniversary Of 1979 Islamic Revolution

Iranians took to the streets of Tehran and other cities and towns across the country on Tuesday (11th) for rallies and nationwide celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

State media said the rallies would take place in 5,000 cities, towns, and districts all around Iran.  In the capital, Iranians set off from 12 different neighborhoods toward Tehran Freedom Square, where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the crowds.

This year’s anniversary celebrations came amid the greatest bitterness between Tehran and Washington since the early days of the revolution.  Tensions have spiked since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018.

The anniversary comes ten days before parliamentary elections in Iran that are expected  to gauge the popularity of Rouhani and his camp, a mixture of moderate and pro-reform factions, over their hard-line rivals.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution began with widespread unrest over the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.  The shah, secretly ill with cancer, fled Iran in January 1979. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini then returned from exile and the government fell Feb. 11, 1979, after days of mass demonstrations and confrontations between protesters and security forces.

Iran later would vote to become an Islamic republic, a Shiite theocracy with Khomeini as its first supreme leader with final say over all matters of state.  Anger over America allowing the shah into the country to receive cancer treatment in New York would later spark the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by student terrorists and the subsequent hostage crisis, which kindled decades of enmity.



‘Iran Is Looking For A Pretext To Raze Tel-Aviv’ Claims Former IRGC Commander

In a Saturday (8th) interview with the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV station, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) promised to “raze Tel-Aviv to the ground” if Iran is ever attacked.

“If the U.S. does something, we can use it as a pretext to attack Israel, because Israel played a role in the martyrdom of General Soleimani,” said Mohsen Rezaei, according to an interview translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

He had alleged in January that Israel leaked information to the U.S. about Soleimani’s whereabouts, which he said allowed them to carry out the drone strike that killed him.

Since then, Rezaei has told crowds in Tehran that the Israeli city of Haifa and other Israeli cities could be targeted.

Rezaei was the chief commander of the IRGC during the first Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and unsuccessfully ran for president in 2005, 2009, and 2012.  



Filling Soleimani’s Void: Hezbollah Steps In To Guide Iran’s Militias In Iraq

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group has stepped in “to guide Iraqi militias” to fill the gap left when Quds Force commander Major General Kassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in January, reports Reuters, citing two sources who attended recent meetings.

After the killing, Hezbollah “urgently met with Iraqi militia leaders, seeking to unite them in the face of a huge void left by their powerful mentor’s death,” says the news agency.

The Lebanese-based Hezbollah organization has also been involved in the fighting in Syria, and is now, according to the report, spreading its activities to Iraq, as well.

It follows a pattern of Iranian entrenchment in these countries against which Israel has been fighting.

“Iran’s aggression in our region, and against us, continues.  We are taking all necessary actions to prevent Iran from entrenching here in our region,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in November.

“This includes the activity necessary to thwart the transfer of lethal weaponry from Iran to Syria, whether by air or over land,” he added, vowing to “take action to thwart Iran’s efforts to turn Iraq and Yemen into bases for launching rockets and missiles against the State of Israel.”

In August, a drone strike in Iraq reportedly hit a pro-Iranian militia affiliated with Hezbollah killing one and destroying two vehicles carrying arms.  Israel was deemed responsible although the IDF refused to comment. Fingers were pointed at Israel for another attack during the same month on a military base southwest of Baghdad, hitting the same militia belonging to The Popular Mobilization Forces.

“The Tehran-backed militias are critical to Iran’s efforts to maintain control over Iraq, where the U.S. still maintains some 5,000 troops, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, NATO countries are preparing to mobilize more than 200 trainers to work with the international force that is fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq, in a bid to build up the Iraqi army as President Donald Trump has demanded that U.S. allies do more in the Middle East, senior officials said Tuesday (11th), according to The Associated Press.

The move is to be high on the agenda Wednesday (12th) when NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels to weigh exact troop members, says AP.