Period: February 2017
End-Time Church / Pluralism
Global Politics


Secret effort to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which saw a Feb. 2016 Aqaba summit with Netanyahu, Kerry, Sissi, Abdullah, was doomed by US, official close to PM claims
By Times of Israel staff - February 22, 2017 - The administration of former US president Barack Obama ruined the chance for a regional peace deal to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last year by trying to impose its terms for the accord, a senior Israeli official reportedly said late Tuesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly confirmed on Sunday that he attended a secret US-led summit with Arab leaders in early 2016 meant to jumpstart efforts toward a regional peace push, but told Likud ministers that he, and not then-US secretary of state John Kerry, was the initiator of the meeting.
The February 21, 2016 meeting in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba was attended by the prime minister, Kerry, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah. The first report about the summit, published in Haaretz Sunday, said Kerry had started the ball rolling with a US-crafted two-state proposal for ending the conflict, which would include broad Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state, a key demand Netanyahu has sought in peace talks with Palestinian Authority leaders.

By The Jerusalem Connection - February 13, 2017 - By Israel Today — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday departed for his fateful first meeting with Donald Trump since becoming the 45th president of the United States.
But before Netanyahu left, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef blessed him and prayed for the meeting.
“May the Holy One, Blessed be He, be with your words. You are the representative of the entire Jewish nation, and there is no doubt God will aid you,” said Yosef.
A day earlier, Netanyahu presided over a fiery cabinet meeting where some ministers put heavy pressure on him to take advantage of President Trump’s sympathy to renounce the two-state solution and the so-called “Oslo Accords.”
Netanyahu tried to chill expectations, insisting that even with a president like Trump, there would be limitations to what Israel could do. Even so, if the meeting ends with either Netanyahu or Trump committing to a Palestinian state, the prime minister will be in for a political firestorm when he gets home.

By TOVAH LAZAROFF,GIL HOFFMAN - February 12, 2017 -
PM Netanyahu, who departs for Washington today, tells ministers that the new US president won’t give Israel free rein.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not retract his support for the creation of a Palestinian state when he meets with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday, Netanyahu made clear in Sunday’s security cabinet meeting.
When Bayit Yehudi ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked called on Netanyahu to speak out against the creation of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu told them of a conversation with Trump in which the president told him he thinks he can make peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Hours earlier, Netanyahu said that Trump will not give Israel free rein to do what it wants.
“Even after eight years of complex navigation in the tenure of [former US president Barack] Obama, we still need to continue to act wisely with the Trump administration,” Netanyahu told the ministers in his party, before the weekly cabinet meeting. “While it is a more comfortable administration [to work with], there will still be restrictions.”
Netanyahu has publicly accepted the principle of a two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict since his public address on the matter at Bar-Ilan University upon entering office in 2009.
But his coalition’s right flank, the Bayit Yehudi party, as well as members of his own Likud party, have pressured him to back away from that position, particularly given that support for a Palestinian state is not part of the US Republican Party’s platform.
National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) warned that if Netanyahu were to disavow the Bar-Ilan speech, it would harm Israel internationally. But the voices of caution were drowned out on Sunday by right-wing politicians who also called on Netanyahu to annex Area C of the West Bank. Speaking at a sovereignty conference in Jerusalem, sponsored by the organization Women in Green, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said she had told Netanyahu already last week that “your political base requires sovereignty.”
Environment and Jerusalem Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin, also of the Likud, said, “There is no doubt that the conversation with regard to Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank has become a significant component of the political discourse, and that is undoubtedly a great achievement.” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said that the Israeli position Netanyahu presents to Trump with regard to Palestinian statehood and sovereignty would impact the Trump administration’s stance on the matter. “It won’t be more Zionist than Netanyahu,” Dagan said as he urged Netanyahu to stand strong.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee told the conference in a video message that the Trump administration marked a “new day of you knowing that your friends are with you. I wish upon you the courage to be bold and to do that which is necessary to secure your homeland. This is not land that you occupy. This is land that you own, and you have a right to live there.” Since taking office, Trump has not put forward a position with regard to a Palestinian state.

JOYCE KARAM - Special to Arab News - February 14, 2017 - WASHINGTON: After eight years of hand-wringing and not-so-subtle backstabbing between former US President Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, a “monumental” shift in language and substance awaits the Israeli prime minister as he arrives in Washington to meet Obama’s successor Donald Trump. Netanyahu’s visit on Wednesday will mark the first official meeting that Trump will hold with a Middle Eastern leader in the Oval Office since his inauguration on Jan. 20.
Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet Vice President Mike Pence, and have dinner with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday. He will also meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The change in optics will be accompanied by a shift in the discussions, according to experts, where Iran’s regional role and its nuclear program will likely dominate the meetings, followed by exploring ideas to jumpstart the peace process.
“The difference from the Obama administration is monumental,” said David Shor, a foreign policy expert based in New York. The strained relations between Obama and Netanyahu were no secret over the last eight years; Netanyahu dismissed the administration’s calls for a settlement freeze, rebuffed its Iran policies and went behind the White House’s back in addressing the Republican-majority Congress in 2015.
Key to the differences during the Obama days was “the enormous pressure (the administration put) on Israel to make concessions, while basically giving Tehran a free hand in the region,” Shor said.
And in that alone, a sea change is expected from the Trump Cabinet. Upping “the pressure on Iran — especially regionally, with a clear upgrading and enhancing of the US-Israel alliance” is expected, and “Israel surely hopes that Iran will once again be the central focus of American foreign policy in the Middle East,” the expert added.

By The Jerusalem Connection - November 12, 2016
BY RAPHAEL AHREN, JPOST - On January 20, 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will finally have a Republican president sitting in the White House. Netanyahu has often been called a Republican himself, and many observers of US-Israel relations believe he is eagerly awaiting Inauguration Day, when for the first time in his 10 years at the helm of the Jewish state there will not be a Democratic president of the US. On the face of it, Donald Trump’s victory seems to be a dream come true for the Israeli prime minister. The president-elect has repeatedly vowed to unconditionally back the Jewish state in any possible way: he promised not to try to force a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; slammed the Iranian nuclear deal; pledged to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and removed the two-state solution from the Republican party platform.
Netanyahu also knows and appreciates the vice-president-elect, Mike Pence, who has a long record of support for Israel.
Some of the names rumored to be part of Trump’s future cabinet will be music to Netanyahu’s ears. Newt Gingrich and John Bolton, for instance, are thought to have a good chance of becoming the next secretary of state, and Rudy Giuliani expects to be appointed attorney-general. Many others in Trump’s inner circle have long records of outspoken and unconditional support for the Jewish state and Netanyahu’s policies. On the other hand, Netanyahu knows that Trump is unpredictable and might change his Middle East policies on a whim. The prime minister surely hasn’t forgotten that Trump said he wants to remain “neutral” on the Israeli-Palestinian issue or that he contemplated asking Israel to repay the billions in military aid it received from the US. In December, Netanyahu issued a statement rejecting Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, stressing that “Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens.”

By Emily Love - February 15, 2017 - President Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to hold a joint press conference at the White House regarding the future of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The upshot of which is neither leader committed explicitly to back a future independent Palestine, a longstanding bedrock of US policy. Trump suggested to Netanyahu that Israel should “hold back” on building new settlements “for a little bit.”
“As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out but I would like to see a deal be made,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Netanyahu at the White House before their meeting.
In response, Netanyahu played down the issue of settlement building. “I believe that the issue of the settlement is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict. I think it’s an issue that has to be resolved in the context of peace negotiations,” Netanyahu said.
Last month, Israel approved the construction of 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, amidst a spate of settlement expansion in the wake of Trump’s inauguration. On Wednesday, Trump also said that he is open to either a one-state or two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a departure from U.S. stance in previous administrations.
“I’m looking at two-state, one-state, and I like the one that both parties like… I can live with either one,” Trump said.
The previous U.S. administrations have pushed for the two-state solution to the Middle East peace process, an idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state that lives side-by-side with Israel.

By Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh, Associated Press
RAMALLAH, West Bank - February 8, 2017 - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who spent hundreds of hours on the phone and in meetings with U.S. presidents and secretaries of state in the past 12 years, has tried unsuccessfully to reach out to President Donald Trump. Abbas and his aides are alarmed by the possibility of being sidelined at a time when the administration is embracing Israel's prime minister who heads to the White House next week. Here's a look at what's at stake for Abbas and Palestinian hopes for statehood.
In December, the Trump transition team refused to meet with Palestinian officials visiting Washington, putting them off until after the Jan. 20 inauguration, according to senior Abbas aide Saeb Erekat, the main point man for official contacts with the United States. Other advisers say Abbas tried to arrange a phone call with Trump after the November election and again after the inauguration, but received no response to his requests. The White House did not respond to a January letter in which Abbas expressed concerns about possibly moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to contested Jerusalem.
Erekat, whose contacts are now limited to the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, has been quoted as saying that "we have sent them letters, written messages; they don't even bother to respond to us." In contrast, Trump spoke twice with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone, on Nov. 9 and Jan. 22, and will receive him at the White House on February 15,
The White House earlier this week denied an Israeli newspaper report, based on a secondhand quote from a Trump aide, that the administration does not intend to have a relationship with the Palestinian Authority, Abbas' self-rule government, at this point. However, the statement did not say what kind of relationship the White House envisions with the Palestinians.

By The Jerusalem Connection - February 13, 2017 By Noah Beck, Israel Today - Palestinian and other Arab leaders threatened violence in response to President Trump’s pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. While Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also promised such a move as candidates, each backed off. The terrorist who killed four Israelis in Jerusalem Jan. 8 by mowing them over with his truck expressed agitation after hearing a sermon at a local mosque criticizing Trump’s embassy relocation promise. The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership reportedly instructed the mosques it controls to focus their religious sermons on the embassy relocation. Worse still, the PA promised the terrorist’s widow a lifetime, $760-per-month stipend for her husband’s “martyrdom for Allah.”
Arab reactions to Trump’s embassy plans are more heated than they were to those of candidates Bush and Clinton perhaps because of Trump’s pledge to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the embassy there from Tel Aviv, not only as a candidate (including during his address at last year’s AIPAC Policy Conference) but also as president-elect, issuing public reassurances on the issue. Trump even planned to visit the Temple Mount as a candidate, although the visit never materialized and – as president – he said last Thursday that it was “too early” to discuss moving the U.S. Embassy.
Nevertheless, Palestinian and Arab leaders have warned that moving the embassy could lead to unrest and violence. Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called the idea “a declaration of war against Islam.” PA President Mahmoud Abbas said he could revoke the PLO’s recognition of Israel, while his Fatah party warned the move “would open the gates of hell.” Such declarations by political and religious leaders give a green light to Palestinians to react violently, as the Jerusalem terrorist truck attack shows.

By The Jerusalem Connection - February 13, 2017 - Glick to submit bill annexing Jerusalem-area settlements
By Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post - MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) plans to submit to the Knesset this week a private member’s bill to annex the settlements around Jerusalem. It follows on the heels of a similar bill to annex the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, which already has been submitted but not approved for government support by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Glick’s bill would include Ma’aleh Adumim, as well as the settlement of Givat Ze’ev, Geva Binyamin (Adam), Psagot, Ma’aleh Michmash and the Gush Etzion bloc.
It would cover at least one third of the 386,000 settlers in Judea and Samaria, based on 2015 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Glick’s spokesman said the bill has the support of Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Transportation Minister Israel Katz, both of the Likud. The legislation is part of a flurry of annexation initiatives settlers and right-wing politicians have promoted since US President Donald Trump was sworn into office on January 20.
Glick said placing these communities within sovereign Israel would strengthen Jerusalem and remove the idea of a Palestinian state from the agenda. He noted that Israel would soon mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, in which Judea and Samaria were liberated, saying it also should be “the year of sovereignty.” It is not enough to settle for applying sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim, he added. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has discouraged annexation attempts, preferring a more moderate path forward in which the US would support construction within the settlement blocs.

By The Jerusalem Connection - May 30, 2014
With the collapse of American-led efforts to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the peace process has largely faded from view, as the prospect of a deal seems more remote than ever.

By The Jerusalem Connection - Feb 13, 2017 - By Yasser Okbi—
Donald Trump has responded to the Jordanian king’s request that the United States refrain from moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Arab media reported on Saturday. The Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported that the Trump administration transferred a message to the Palestinian Authority that the embassy would not be moving to Jerusalem.
According to the report, top security officials in the Trump administration also spoke with the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, Majid Faraj, to send “reassuring messages” on settlements. But in an interview with the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom, Trump said he had not yet made a decision on whether or not to relocate the embassy. “I am thinking about the embassy, I am studying the embassy [issue], and we will see what happens. The embassy is not an easy decision. It has obviously been out there for many, many years, and nobody has wanted to make that decision. I’m thinking about it very seriously, and we will see what happens,” Trump told the paper. On Wednesday, the foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt discussed Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem during a meeting in the Jordanian capital Amman.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said that Israeli settlements and other issues relating to the conflict were addressed during Jordanian King Abdullah’s recent meetings with the new US administration. During the visit, Abdullah raised concerns about Trump’s pledge to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

By The Jerusalem Connection - Janurary 25, 2017 - By Art Moore - WND - A major nemesis during the Iraq War is warning that if the U.S. moves its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as President Trump has vowed, it will be regarded as a declaration of war against Islam. Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who led a militia against U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, called for the “formation of a special division to liberate Jerusalem were the decision to be implemented.”
Congress passed a law two decades ago directing that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem, every president has signed a waiver every six months, citing national security concerns. The U.S. largely has fallen in line with United Nations policy, which does not recognize Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem after the city’s capture in the Arab-initiated Six Day War.
The Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the third holiest city in Islam and the future capital of a Palestinian state.
Commenting on Sader’s declaration, Islam expert Robert Spencer, the publisher of Jihad Watch, observed that while Western policy analysts routinely treat Israel’s conflict with the Arabs as a matter of a land dispute that can be settled by negotiations, Muslim spokesmen worldwide treat it as an Islamic matter. “Al-Sadr and many others are trying to make this move of the embassy into a showdown,” Spencer wrote. “They are trying to make President Trump back down, which would set an extremely damaging precedent. He warned that “if the administration backs down and the showdown is averted, those analysts would be kidding themselves if they didn’t realize that it is coming sooner or later anyway.”

By The Jerusalem Connection - Feb 13, 2017 - By Reuters - Netanyahu opposes a Palestinian state, a senior Israeli cabinet member said on Monday, but left it unclear whether the prime minister would say that publicly in talks with US President Donald Trump in Washington this week.
Netanyahu has never explicitly abandoned his conditional support for a future Palestine, and his spokesman did not respond immediately to a request to comment on Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s remarks. Erdan belongs to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, whose leading members have often espoused a harder line than the prime minister himself. “I think all members of the security cabinet, and foremost the prime minister, oppose a Palestinian state,” Erdan told Army Radio after the forum met on Sunday on the eve of Netanyahu’s departure for Washington for talks with Trump on Wednesday.
“No one thinks in the next few years that a Palestinian state is something that, God forbid, might or should happen,” he said in the interview. But asked if Netanyahu would voice opposition to statehood on camera when he meets Trump, Erdan said: “The prime minister has to weigh things according to what he feels in the meeting and the positions he encounters there. No one knows what the positions of the president and his staff are.” Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with east Jerusalem as its capital. Israel captured those areas in a 1967 war and pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005. Citing Israeli settlement activity, Palestinian leaders and the former US administration of Barack Obama have questioned Netanyahu’s commitment, which he first made in a 2009 policy speech, to the so-called two-state solution to decades of conflict. “It is not only their statements – what the government of the extreme right in Israel does on the ground prevents any chance of the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Wasel Abu Youssef, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said of Erdan’s comments.


Days after Trump and Netanyahu talk of regional deal, Adel al-Jubeir says his country ready to stand with others in Arab world ‘to promote’ a deal
By AP and Times of Israel staff - February 19, 2017 - Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said he is optimistic that Arabs and Israelis can reach a peace deal in 2017. Speaking four days after US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a White House press conference about the possibilities of a regional peace agreement, Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian accord were clear, and that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states would work to bring it to fruition.
“I believe progress can be made in the Arab-Israel conflict, if there is a will to do so,” he said. “We know what the settlement looks like, if there is just the political will to do so. And my country stands ready with other Arab countries to work to see how we can promote that.” He said the new US administration made him optimistic that this and other regional challenges could be resolved.

CSPAN Early March 2017. The Speakers addressed the fact that the only solution for Israel is a 2 state solution. It has been tried for 70 years without results. The Palestinians consider the Jews as occupiers. The speakers seemed to have little hope for an agreement between the two states. It was said that the opportunity is fading away fast and there is no other solution. To develop a national identity and live in peace is now confusing. Is is still approached by Arab diplomats in the U.S. The CIA Director West Bank are ready to negotiate. No more settlements. no more settlements, no more undermining of Telavive by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem . The all important city of peace should be open to all religions.
The conference was supposed to include the usual diplomat from Palestine who could not be present. Instead another Diplomat took his place. He agreed that the only solution is a 2state solution. He said that Israelis are making it more difficult by defying international law by undermining the Palestinians. In the agreement in 1988 relative to East Jerusalem, the Palestinians had 22% left. They are not willing to compromise anything more. The Palestinians want one state with equal rights. What is the purpose of division. Any attempt to divide Muslims, Shiites and Summies, 20 are Summies who are in Lebanon. No more sectarian strife. To bring in Saudis and make sense of that, it has been tried before, instead let's push that which will enable peace with countries. No more sectarianism which causes strife. No divided city at capital of all capitals. Moving the embassy will bring negative results. We have to make clear how sensitive this issue is. Bigots, homophobics do not succeed in this country. To condemn US Jews, destroy their cemeteries, wishing to get Christians to join this anti-Semitism produces fear.
US tolerance needs to continue. US values need to continue to work. Shared values to see an end of the Palestinian and Israeli Conflict. Children need a better future consisting of two sovereign states, security and solid commitment to work with you in this group to achieve your objective which is a peace agreement that holds.
The PA Diplomat gave hope in that he stated Palestinians wish to resume to the original agreement that Jerusalem should be considered an international city.
[Ednote: I tried to relate what was said from notes. They were not word for word. Jerusalem was one of the sticking points in the past. The Palestinians insisted that Jerusalem would have to go to them if there were a peace agreement. President Trump is making a difference. The Palestinians know this is their last chance. Netanyahu knows it as well. They would certainly agree to Jerusalem as an international city. Israeli rabbis are asking Trump and Putin to help build the third temple.. I read today that President Trump has invited Abbas, Palestinian President, to Washington, DC. ] CSPAN

Sissi tells Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remove a key impetus for terror..
By Stuart Winer and Times of Israel staff - February 19, 2017 - Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told a delegation from an umbrella group of US Jewish groups that reaching an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of his top priorities.
Meeting in Cairo, Sissi told representatives from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that reaching a peace deal would remove a main impetus behind terror attacks.
Sunday’s meeting came as an Israeli media report detailed a secret summit between Sissi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah and US secretary of state John Kerry last year aimed at cobbling together a regional peace initiative. Sissi, who also met with the Jewish group last year shortly before the secret summit, said Sunday that a regional peace would bring a new reality, enabling cultural and economic development for countries in the area.
Sunday’s meeting with the Jewish leaders was aimed at improving ties between the US and Egypt, according to a statement from the Egyptian Presidency, The Daily News Egypt website reported.

Opposition leader says ‘history will judge’ prime minister for allowing his allies to derail agreement that would have ‘changed the region’
By Raphael Ahren - February 20, 2017 - Opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Monday confirmed reports that he entered negotiations to join a unity government last year in the framework of a secret regional agreement that was discussed at the time, and argued that the potentially historic deal fell through because Prime Minister Benjamin eventually caved in to domestic political pressures. Addressing American-Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Herzog (Zionist Union) said Netanyahu had been willing to appoint him foreign minister to oversee a process that would include a freeze on settlement construction outside the settlement blocs — areas of the West Bank that Israel would seek to retain under a peace deal — in return for international and Arab consent to building within the blocs. “What happened was amazing,” Herzog said, speaking in English. “I worked with Netanyahu on a draft appendix to our agreement, which had included certain steps that were quite dramatic. Had these steps been agreed upon, namely, had he agreed at the end to go for it, it would have changed the region.”

JOINT NETANYAHU-HERZOG PEACE BID WAS STYMIED BY AMONA CRISIS LAST FALL - REPORT - PM and opposition leader said to have drafted an 8-point regional peace call before coalition talks collapsed in October
Tony Blair said in talks to become Trump’s Mideast envoy - Former British PM and Quartet representative denies report he met with Jared Kushner in bid to reprise peace process role.
By Times of Israel staff and AFP - March 5, 2017 - A spokesperson for Tony Blair on Sunday denied a report he wants to become US President Donald Trump’s adviser on the Middle East. According to The Mail on Sunday newspaper, the former British prime minister met with Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner last week to discuss working for the Republican president. The weekly tabloid said Blair had met Kushner three times since September, including a three-hour meeting last week at the White House.
Kushner has been named by Trump as his point-man on Mideast peace. Blair is looking to become Kushner’s adviser on any Trump peace effort, the story claimed. “The story in the Mail on Sunday is an invention,” a spokesperson for Blair said in a statement. “Mr. Blair has made no such ‘pitch’ to be the President‘s Middle East envoy. Neither has he had any discussions about taking such a role or any role working for the new President. He has been working on the peace process for 10 years. He continues to do so. He does so in a private capacity. He will continue to do it in that way. Period.”
The Mail cited “a well-placed source” saying that “Blair has been pitching hard for this job and Trump’s people are taking him very seriously.”

At conference backing violent uprising, Khamenei says no people in history ever suffered as badly as Palestinians
By Raphael Ahren February 21, 2017 - Illustrative: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Monday, August 1, 2016. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP) Calling Israel a “cancerous tumor,” Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday expressed support for a “holy intifada” to eradicate the Jewish state, arguing that the international community is headed toward confrontation with the “Zionist regime.”
In the opening address of the regime’s sixth international conference in support of the Palestinian violent uprising against Israel, Ayatollah Khamenei hailed the “resistance” against the “cruel occupation,” which he described as the worst case of oppression against one particular people recorded in history. He also accused Israel’s founders of being responsible for the current upheaval in the wider Middle East.
“The people of Palestine have no option other than keeping the flames of fighting alight by relying on Allah the Exalted and by relying on their innate capabilities, as they have genuinely done so until today,” said Khamenei, according to a translation of his speech posted on his website. A wave of terrorism some called a third intifada, which began last year and manifested itself mainly in stabbings and vehicular attacks against Israelis troops and civilians, is “moving forward in a bright and hopeful manner,” the ayatollah declared. “And by Allah’s permission, we will see that this intifada will begin a very important chapter in the history of fighting and that it will inflict another defeat on that usurping regime.” “From the beginning, this cancerous tumor has been developing in several phases until it turned into the current disaster,” he went on. “The cure for this tumor should be developed in phases as well.”


By JNI Media March 6, 2017 - “In that day Hashem made a covenant with Avram, saying: ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates…'” Genesis 15:18 (The Israel Bible™)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) stated at Monday morning’s meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he strongly opposes the idea of annexing Judea and Samaria, citing a direct threat from the Trump White House discouraging any future attempt to do it.
“I heard this morning Miki Zohar from Likud talking about an initiative to impose Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria,” Liberman told the committee, adding, “I’m starting to receive phone inquiries from around the world about this. I want to make clear – we should separate from the Palestinians, not absorb Palestinians in our own area. It’s 2,700,000 Palestinians.”
On Sunday, MK Zohar presented in a panel discussion on i24News his plan for allowing the PA Arabs to live in a Jewish one-state, with full civil rights, save for the right to vote for the Knesset.
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“I’m not even talking about us being attacked over the fact that [these annexed Arabs] would not be granted voting rights. Even if they only receive residency, it means that from day one Israel would have to pay them $5.5 billion for Social Security alone. Which is why this approach is wrong and the coalition better clarify in no uncertain terms that there is no intent to impose Israeli sovereignty on Judea and Samaria.
“We received a direct message from the US, that imposing sovereignty on Judea and Samaria would mean an immediate crisis with the US. So, anyone looking to start a crisis with the US and also spend $5.5 billion, let them go ahead.”

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
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.

Two NGOs representing 17 municipalities file papers seeking to overturn ‘dangerous’ new legislation legalizing West Bank; Court gives state one month to prepare defense
By Raoul Wootliff and Agencies February 8, 2017 -Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups petitioned the High Court Wednesday, asking it to strike down a new law that retroactively legalizes several thousand West Bank settlement homes built on privately owned Palestinian land.
Arab rights group Adalah said that it and the East Jerusalem-based Legal Aid and Human Rights Center had filed the request on Wednesday afternoon on behalf of 17 Palestinian municipalities to overturn the “dangerous” law, which was approved by the Israeli parliament late on Monday.
“This sweeping and dangerous law permits the expropriation of vast tracts of private Palestinian land, giving absolute preference to the political interests of Israel,” said Suhad Bishara, an attorney for Adalah.
The court gave the state one month to present its defense of the law, Israel Radio reported.
The petitions against the law had been expected and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit warned before it was passed Monday that he would be unable to defend it in court, saying that it marks the first time Israeli legislation explicitly affirms government support for wildcat settlements, and would openly curtail property rights of Palestinians in the West Bank in a way that contravenes the protections granted to
occupied populations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

From Associated Press - March 09, 2017 - MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for talks focusing on the situation in Syria and Israeli concerns about the role of Iran and its proxies there.
Greeting Netanyahu at the start of their Kremlin negotiations, Putin emphasized a high level of trust between them. Netanyahu's visit to Moscow follows his talks last month with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu praised Russia's role in fighting the Islamic State group and other radical militants in Syria. At the same time, he raised strong concern about the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria.
"One of the things that we are fighting together is radical Islamic terrorism," Netanyahu said as he and Putin sat down for talks. "Of course, in the past year, there was significant progress in the fight against the radical Sunni Islamic terrorism led by Daesh and al-Qaida," he said, using the Arabic acronym Daesh to refer to the Islamic State group. "Russia has made a very important contribution. Naturally, we do not want this terrorism to be replaced by the radical Shiite Islamic terrorism led by Iran."
Russia has sided with Iran and Hezbollah in helping support Syrian President Bashar Assad, but at the same time it has maintained warm ties with Israel. The two nations have coordinated their actions to prevent any possible incidents between their militaries in Syria.






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