Archive for May 12, 2017

UN to jailed Islamic dissidents: “You will love it”

May 12, 2017

UN to jailed Islamic dissidents: “You will love it”  Israel National News, Giulio Meotti, May 12, 2017

Now, the favorite to succeed Irina Bokova is a Qatari politician and a Saudi will be the spokesman for the UN agency conference, while an Iranian will be the head of its executive board. They call it the “Islamic Troika”. That is the purpose of these exclusive nights at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh whose slogan is: “You will love it!”. 

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Why miss a long weekend at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, where “spacious marble bathrooms boast deep soaking bathtubs” and are waiting for you?

This is what the 2,100 delegates of 400 Western non-governmental organizations thought when attending last weekend’s forum on “Youth and their Social Impact” sponsored by the United Nations. Participants of the gentle sex were asked to wear the abaya, the long caftan-like robe that veils Saudi women. Men were asked not to give their left hand, impolite under Islam. 

The event was organized by a foundation of the Saudi ruling family and was attended by, among others, Unesco’s Secretary General Irina Bokova, the founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, the French intellectual Jacques Attali, and Bloomberg Media Executive, Justin Smith.

Obviously, to save face, all these humanitarian organizations had to ignore the fact that a few miles from their forum Abdullah al Attawi and Mohammed al Oteibi had been persecuted and found “guilty” of having founded a human rights organization.

The two stars of Western journalism present in Riyadh, the Wikipedia chief and Bloomberg executive, had to avoid thinking that a hero of freedom of speech and open sources of information regarding which Wikipedia pretends to be a pioner, languishes in a Saudi prison at this moment. It is Raif Badawi, a liberal blogger lashed by the Saudi rulers.

They had to silence the case of Waleed Abu al Khair, who was condemned to fifteen years in prison for comments he made on human rights. Or the journalist Alaa Brinji, sentenced to five years in prison for criticizing religious authorities and sustaining women’s rights. A year ago, the Saudis arrested all the leadership of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association for supporting pro-democracy reforms.

They did not have to talk about them at this forum.

One of the most courageous NGOs, UN Watch, condemned the event: “Regrettably, Unesco, the U.N. agency for education, science, and culture, mentioned nowhere at its 7th International Forum of NGO, or on the conference website, that Saudi Arabia prohibits independent NGOs and arrests, jails and even sometimes flogs human rights activists”.

The UN forum was sponsored by the wealthy MiSK foundation, a Saudi charity led by Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi defense minister who led the Yemen bombing that killed 10,000 civilians and imposed a naval blockade on medical supplies, resulting in twenty million Yemenites who now need humanitarian assistance and seven million suffering from hunger.

But the Riyadh forum tells more. It tells us about the level of penetration of Islamic regimes in the UN human rights councils and commissions. In fact, in six months, Unesco has approved two resolutions that have cancelled the Jewish roots of Jerusalem, while the Saudis have also been able to get re-elected at the UN Commission on Women’s Rights.

Two years ago, during the same hours that medieval Saudi justice flogged Raif Badawi, a delegation from the United Nations landed at Gedda to promote an international conference on religious freedom. No, it’s not a joke. Joachim Rücker, the president of the UN Human Rights Council, was photographed smiling at the side of the guardians of the Wahhabite regime. The Obama administration also sent two envoys to the Gedda conference: the Ambassador for Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, and Arsalan Suleman, the envoy at the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.

There was also Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Envoy for Religious Freedom, a well-known scholar of Immanuel Kant, who must have seen applications of his philosophical reason in the whip that slashed the blogger.

Now, the favorite to succeed Irina Bokova is a Qatari politician and a Saudi will be the spokesman for the UN agency conference, while an Iranian will be the head of its executive board. They call it the “Islamic Troika”. That is the purpose of these exclusive nights at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh whose slogan is: “You will love it!”.

BDS Suffers Another Defeat at University of California-Santa Barbara; Divestment Resolution Gets Zero Votes in Favor

May 12, 2017

BDS Suffers Another Defeat at University of California-Santa Barbara; Divestment Resolution Gets Zero Votes in Favor, AlgemeinerRachel Frommer, May 11, 2017

The University of California-Santa Barbara. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Zero votes were cast in favor of a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) early Thursday morning following a marathon debate between pro- and anti-Israel activists.

Over 100 students signed up to speak for and against the Students for Justice in Palestine-backed (SJP) resolution at a meeting of the student government (AS) that ran from 6:30 pm local time Wednesday until 4:00 am on Thursday, according to campus paper the Daily Nexus.

Ultimately, 16 student representatives voted against the resolution, which was titled “Divest From Companies that Profit From Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel.” There were seven abstentions.

During the open-forum debate, many Jewish students called the resolution antisemitic, with some describing the environment on campus as divided and contentious throughout the BDS campaign, which was launched on Yom HaShoah last month.

Nate Erez — president of UCSB’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a group that played a key role in the anti-BDS effort — said the motion was “no more than a clever disguise to achieve a much more sinister agenda. This is a direct attack on the one Jewish state in the world.”

However, anti-Israel speakers claimed that refusing to boycott companies supposedly profiting from “oppression” of Palestinians would amount to UCSB’s complicity in human rights abuses. Many supporters of the resolution insisted it was a means of remaining neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an argument made in favor of BDS at other campuses, as well.

After keeping a running commentary of AS proceedings throughout the nearly 9-hour meeting, UCSB Hillel executive director Evan Goodman celebrated the victory on Facebook, “Our students and community are amazing. Time to go home now before the sun comes up. #lailatovbokertov.”

Ilan Sinelnikov — founder of the grassroots SSI movement — also took to social media, writing, “UCSB SSI STRONG. BDS KILLED,” adding that from 2015 until today, a BDS resolution has not passed on any campus with an SSI chapter.

Throughout the night, viewers filled the comments section of a live stream of the AS meeting with messages of support for the Zionist students, including one user who commiserated with those “poor souls [who] have to stay up all night to debate supporting bigotry against Jews and a resolution that won’t do a single ounce of good for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

This was the fourth defeat of a boycott campaign at UCSB, which remains to date the only UC campus that has never passed a BDS motion in student government.

Last week, a pro-Israel peace mural at UCSB was twice vandalized by an unknown perpetrator with the phrase “Free Palestine.” (UCSB SJP maintained they were not involved in and condemned the incident.) This came after an “apartheid wall” erected by SJP on campus was exposed for featuring falsified quotes from Israeli leaders.

As of publication time, UCSB Divest had not commented on the result of Thursday’s vote.

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban

May 12, 2017

Intel Report: Iran Refining Nuke Delivery System in Flagrant Violation of Ban, Washington Free Beacon, May 12, 2017

(Please see also, Iran to Launch Two New Satellites, Likely Cover for Illicit ICBM Program. — DM)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 11: U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee with his fellow heads of the United States intelligence agencies in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate international prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic “would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons.”

The disclosure comes just days after Iranian leaders announced the upcoming launch of two new domestically produced satellites. Iran has long used its space program as cover for illicit missile work, as the know-how needed to launch such equipment can be applied to long-range ballistic missile technology.

Daniel Coats, America’s top spymaster, informed Congress this week in an intelligence briefing that Iran’s ballistic missile work continues unimpeded and could be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon, according to unclassified testimony.

Iran’s ballistic missile work, particularly its focus on ICBMs, runs counter to United Nations resolutions barring such activity, though it remains unclear if the Trump administration plans to pursue new sanctions on Iran.

Iran continues to perform key research and development on nuclear missile capabilities despite the landmark nuclear agreement with Western powers, according to the last U.S. intelligence assessments.

“Iran is pursuing capabilities to meet its nuclear energy and technology goals and to give it the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so” Coats wrote in his written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee.

U.S. officials are unsure if Iran will build nuclear weapons, but it is likely this intention would dictate Tehran’s future adherence to the nuclear deal, which the administration of former President Barack Obama framed in such a way as to leave out the issue of ballistic missiles.

The United States assesses that Iran remains about a year away from a functional nuclear missile if it decides to build one in violation of the nuclear deal.

Iranian military leaders claim their missile work is unrelated to the nuclear agreement and permissible under it. The country’s refusal to abandon this work has caused concern on Capitol Hill, as well as among U.S. national security insiders who view the work as related to Iran’s aspirations for regional dominance.

The U.S. intelligence community maintains that Iran—which has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East—likely would use this technology to launch a nuclear weapon.

“We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” according to Coats. “Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.”

“Tehran’s desire to deter the United States might drive it to field an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM),” Coats wrote, referring to Iran’s covert missile work. “Progress on Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles use similar technologies.”

Iran “continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats—including against U.S. allies in the region,” Coats testified.

This includes cyber attacks “directly against the United States,” such as in 2013, when an Iranian hacker penetrated the computer systems of a U.S. dam.

Iran also is pursuing a massive buildup of its military, which observers have described as unprecedented.

The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed that Iran is developing “a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target U.S. and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs [drones], ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles,” according to Coats.

Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” Obamacare and Sally Yates

May 12, 2017

Trump’s “Muslim Ban,” Obamacare and Sally Yates, Dan Miller’s Blog, Dan Miller, May 12, 2017

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

President Trump’s initial executive order imposed a temporary ban on refugees from seven countries where terrorism is endemic and information on potential refugees is scant, pending development of a workable vetting procedure. He later vacated the initial order and replaced it with one affecting only six countries and making other changes not relevant to the points addressed in this article. 

The initial executive order was rejected as unconstitutional, apparently because in violation of the First Amendment (freedom of religion), by several district court judges and the replacement order has had the same fate. The rulings were based, not on the text of the orders, but on Candidate Trump’s campaign references to a “Muslim ban.” Both orders applied equally to non-Muslims and Muslims from the subject countries. Neither mentioned, nor banned, nor applied to anyone from, any other Muslim majority country. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2010 there were “49 countries in which Muslims comprise more than 50% of the population.”

On May 11th, law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote an article titled Sally in Wonderland: The “Curiouser and Curiouser” Position of The Former Acting Attorney General. It deals with the testimony of now-former (fired) acting Attorney General Sally Yates concerning her refusal to allow the Department of Justice to support President Trump’s initial executive order. Ms. Yates was a hold-over from the Obama administration.

Professor Turley opined on Ms. Yates’ decision in the context of this graphic:

Sometimes congressional hearings bring clarity to controversies. Many times they do not. Controversies can become “curiouser and curiouser,” as they did for Alice in Wonderland. That was the case with the testimony of fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week discussing her unprecedented decision to order the entire Justice Department not to assist President Trump in defending the first immigration order. Yates was lionized by Democratic senators as a “hero” and has been celebrated in the media for her “courageous stand.” However, for those concerned about constitutional law and legal ethics, there is little to celebrate in Yates’ stand. Indeed, her explanation before the Senate only made things more confusing. It was a curious moment for the new Alice of the Beltway Wonderland: “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

There has been considerable speculation on why Yates would engineer such a confrontation, but what is more important is her justification for ordering an entire federal department to stand down and not to assist a sitting president. Yates’ prior explanation fell considerably short of the expected basis for such a radical step. She dismissed the review of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) by insisting that those career lawyers only look at the face of the order and did not consider Trump’s campaign statements and his real motivations. Of course, many question the use of campaign rhetoric as a basis for reviewing an order written months later by an administration. Most notably, Yates did not conclude that the order was unconstitutional (in contradiction with her own OLC). Rather, she said that she was not convinced that the order was “wise or just” or was “lawful.” She does not explain the latter reference but then added that she was acting on her duty to “always seek justice and stand for what is right.” That is a rather ambiguous standard to support this type of obstruction of a sitting president. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asked, “Did you believe, then, that there were reasonable arguments that could be made in its defense?” In an astonishing response, Yates said no because she decided on her view of Trump’s real intent and not the language of the order. However, many judges disagree with implied motive as the appropriate standard for review, as evidenced by the oral argument this week before the Fourth Circuit. More importantly, at the time of her decision, many experts (including some of us who opposed the order) were detailing how past cases and the statutory language favored the administration. It is ridiculous to suggest that there were no reasonable arguments supporting the order. [Emphasis added.]

I agree with Professor Turley’s analysis and posted the following comment arguing that there is Supreme Court precedent for ignoring politically oriented campaign rhetoric such as Candidate Trump’s reference to a “Muslim ban.”

Ms. Yates testified that substantially the same standards of review apply to executive orders as to acts of Congress.

When Obamacare was under discussion prior to enactment and when it was enacted, its basis was claimed to be the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Those who wrote Obamacare and those who voted for it rejected the notion that it was a tax because to accept that classification would have been political suicide. President Obama did not suggest to the public that Obamacare was a tax. He claimed that it was appropriate under the Commerce Clause. As I recall, counsel for the Government rejected classification as a tax during oral argument, relying instead on the commerce clause.

The majority opinion written by Chief justice Roberts held that although violative of the Commerce clause, Obamacare was permissible instead under the powers granted by the Constitution to impose taxes and was, therefore, compliant with the Constitution. Even after the decision was released, President Obama continued to claim that it was not a tax.

Chief Justice Roberts cited the Congressional power to tax the non-purchase of gasoline — something the Congress had never done as to gasoline or any other commodity or service. He did not suggest how it could be done: tax everybody who fails to purchase gasoline, only the owners of automobiles, only the owners of gasoline reliant automobiles, only those owning such automobiles but failing to purchase specified quantities, and so on. As I recall, Prof. Turley wrote an article questioning the majority opinion’s reliance on the taxing powers of Congress. [Professor Turley wrote about the decision in an article title Et tu, Roberts? Federalism Falls By The Hand Of A Friend.– DM]

The evident basis of the Obamacare decision was the notion that acts of Congress are to be upheld if there is any Constitutional basis for doing so — despite politically motivated statements by members of Congress who had voted for it and despite assertions by the President and others that it was not a tax. Under the standard applied by Ms. Yates to President Trump’s executive order, such statements would have rendered Obamacare unconstitutional and obligated her, as Acting Attorney General, to refuse to support it in court. [Emphasis added.]

Ms. Yates was asked neither about the standard applied by the Supreme Court in upholding Obamacare nor her application of an apparently different standard to President Trump’s executive order.

The judges who have thus far rejected President Trump’s initial and second executive order adopted the same rationale as Ms. Yates. The judges who upheld the orders obviously did not.

It is probable that the Supreme Court will eventually decide on the constitutionality of President Trump’s revised executive order, particularly if (as seems likely) there is a split in the circuits. Justice Gorsuch will likely be among the justices who decide the case and the executive order will very likely be held constitutional. There will probably be more than five votes for its affirmation.

In the meantime, America will continue to receive substantial numbers of unvetted and potentially dangerous refugees whose admission the executive orders were intended to prevent. Oh well. What’s a few more American deaths by jihadists? What difference at this point does it make?

As Trump creates commission to study voter fraud and suppression, liberals cry foul

May 12, 2017

As Trump creates commission to study voter fraud and suppression, liberals cry foul, Washington TimesStephen Dinan and Dave Boyer, May 11, 2017

(On May 7th, Judicial Watch announced its own project on election integrity, opining that Election Integrity is Under Assault. While claiming that President Trump stole the election due to his connivance with Russia to defeat Hillary, those by whom the election process is actually under assault contend that it’s just fine and that no empirical evidence, one way or the other, is needed. All the more reason to study voter fraud and suppression. — DM)

President Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach to join Vice President Mike Pence in leading a commission to study voter fraud and suppression. (Associated Press/File)

President Trump established a commission Thursday to study voter fraud and suppression, tapping Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach to lead an effort that is drawing fire even before its first meeting.

On an issue where anecdotes, conjecture and accusations from both sides have dominated the debate, the commission hopes to break new ground by producing a comprehensive national look at the extent of voter fraud.

The commission, for the first time, will delve into Homeland Security databases in an effort to determine the scope of noncitizens who end up illegally registered to vote — and sometimes even cast ballots.

“People have their different opinions about whether this is big enough to be considered a problem, how big a problem is it. But oftentimes they don’t have a whole lot of data to work with. This commission will provide that data,” Mr. Kobach told The Washington Times just after Mr. Trump signed an executive order creating the commission.

The idea for the commission stems from Mr. Trump’s insistence that Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s popular victory last year was padded by illegal votes. Liberal voting rights groups dismissed that, saying there isn’t enough evidence of fraud to give the matter attention.

The commission’s charge is broad and the wording is tempered, but Mr. Trump’s signature ignited ferocious pushback from Democrats and activist groups, who said he was setting the stage to strip voting rights from some Americans.

The ink was barely dry on the executive order before the American Civil Liberties Union said it had filed an open records request demanding that the White House release the evidence Mr. Trump is referencing when he makes claims of fraud.

Dale Ho, ACLU voting rights project director, called on sources to boycott the commission to try to prevent it from completing its work. He called Mr. Kobachthe king of voter suppression” and said his participation makes the commission “a sham.”

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, called Mr. Kobach an “enemy of American democracy,” and Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said Mr. Kobach displays bigotry in his efforts to tighten voting and immigration laws.

The Brennan Center for Justice, another of the advocacy groups, released a report last week surveying election officials in 42 cities and counties and saying that 40 of them reported “no known incidents of noncitizen voting” last year.

Mr. Kobach, though, said there are types of fraud that no local official could identify. A legal immigrant who hasn’t obtained citizenship could have registered, perhaps while at the motor vehicles bureau, and it’s unlikely local elections officials would become aware.

“To make broad statements like ‘It’s not a problem, it doesn’t exist’ — that is factually impossible to do. So what the commission is going to do is provide facts,” he said.

“Their reaction is, ‘Oh no, we don’t want to see facts, we don’t want to see data.’ Well, all we’re going to do is provide data to the public, and people can draw their own conclusions about the numbers,” Mr. Kobach said.

He said it will be tougher to gauge voter suppression, which Democrats say is a bigger problem in elections than fraud.

Mr. Kobach said nonvoting is often the result of several factors and pinning down the one that discourages a person from casting a ballot is tough.

“We’ll see what the commission is able to do, and other people on the commission and people that bring evidence before the commission may bring things that I haven’t anticipated,” he said. “That’s one that’s a really tough nut to crack because it’s hard to say 100 percent that you voted in that election because of these reasons, or you didn’t vote because of that reason.”

He said Kansas has not seen evidence that its photo ID requirement is dissuading voters but other states might have evidence.

Although academics and voting officials have studied voter fraud for years, Mr. Kobach said, they have never been able to take a comprehensive look because they have not had access to important data.

He said the commission will be able to use Homeland Security data that lists every legal immigrant and visa holder in the country — and will run a sample of state voter files against that data to try to spot noncitizens who are registered to vote.

Mr. Kobach said the commission also may tap Social Security’s Death Master File to see how often dead people show up on local voting rolls.

Conservative groups said there are hints of how bad the fraud problem is.

North Carolina’s Board of Elections has identified 41 noncitizens who voted in its election last year, and Nevada has an active investigation. The Washington Times has asked for documents on that probe, but Nevada has delayed its answers.

“Perennial questions surrounding the actual scope of ineligible voters and their rates of participation can only be answered when federal offices share information,” said Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

In addition to Mr. Pence and Mr. Kobach, four current or former secretaries of state have been appointed: Democrats from New Hampshire and Maine, and Republicans from Indiana and Ohio.

The commission also will have one of the members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. A half-dozen other members are still to be named, though Mr. Kobach said the endeavor will be bipartisan.

“I’m keeping an open mind, and I think all members of the commission will have an open mind. The charge of the commission is to go out and collect the facts and go where the facts lead us,” he said.

Nothing happens in America besides carping about Trump

May 12, 2017

Nothing happens in America besides carping about Trump, Israel National News, Jack Engelhard, May 12, 2017

Yes, it’s time to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and who cares what the Democrats will say. 

Give them something else to carp about. They’re already out of their minds.

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President Trump’s visit to Israel later this month will be a timely getaway from all the feverish heat he’s been taking here in the U.S.A.

He may want to stay in Israel until the Democrats calm down…and whoever thought we’d say that Israel is a much calmer place than America.

But so it is at this moment. Being a Republican, especially being Trump, is not safe when nearly every Democrat in and out of Washington wants to skin you alive. From the moment Trump fired FBI Director James Comey – actually, from the moment Trump won the election – the Democrats have been on the warpath to oust him from office.

They want nothing less than his abdication by whatever means. That’s all they think about. They have no agenda for the rest of America.

Trump is their agenda – period.

Every day they find something else to pin on him and dumping Comey was just another ticket for them…and the howling began and won’t stop.

Throughout the dials, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, it’s been a cavalcade of rhetorical hysteria.

Trump was acting tyrannical, cried Chris Matthews on MSNBC – the same Matthews who gets a thrill up his leg only when it’s Obama talking and acting.

Unconstitutional, wailed Chuck Todd at NBC. On CNN, Anderson Cooper was plainly crude and rude to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

So it’s been and so it continues and the theme was set when Chuck Schumer raged in the Senate that Comey was getting “too close to home.” That’s why Trump fired him – and what is home to the Democrats? Russia. They are obsessed by Russia, these Democrats, and fixed on a dream that one day they will find the secret door that leads from Putin to Trump.

In fact, even as we speak, three investigations are underway with Russia in mind as intrusive troublemakers – in the Senate, the House and at the FBI.

In addition to that, Schumer wants a Special Prosecutor to prosecute…I mean investigate Trump and Russia and whatever links can be found between the two…even if it takes the next four to eight years. In other words, if you ask what’s going on in America today, the answer is, nothing much – nothing much besides Trump and Russia.

So it goes so long as we have a two party system and the party that loses just won’t quit. Instead of behaving like ladies and gentlemen, they turn into a mob.

In Israel, famous politically for running the country with 34 (yes, 34) political parties, the constant Bibi-bashing in the media pales when compared to the anti-Trump frenzy in the US.

And in Israel, things are getting done. One of those things is getting ready for Trump’s visit. He could not have picked a better time, May 22/23.

That’s around the time when Israel celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem. So here’s his chance to get away from it all and…and make good on a promise.

Yes, it’s time to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and who cares what the Democrats will say.

Give them something else to carp about. They’re already out of their minds.

‘Abbas has decided to sign peace deal with Israel’

May 12, 2017

Source: ‘Abbas has decided to sign peace deal with Israel’ – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

ByYaakov Katz
May 12, 2017
Trump planning to launch new round of talks during his upcoming visit.
Trump Abbas

Donald Trump welcomes Mahmoud Abbas to White House in Washington , May 3, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has crossed the Rubicon and voiced “unprecedented” readiness to reach a peace deal with Israel, sources close to the efforts to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians have told The Jerusalem Post.

Abbas, according to the sources, made this clear to President Donald Trump during their meeting at the White House last week. The president plans to use his trip to Israel later this month to receive assurances from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he, too, is committed to a peace agreement.

Since his meeting with Trump last week, Abbas has changed his rhetoric, issuing a number of statements meant to reflect flexibility on previous demands. He has, for example, said that he would renew the talks under Trump’s auspices without preconditions. In the past, he had said he would not negotiate with Netanyahu without a freeze to settlement construction.

He has also sent his advisers to the press to declare that the Palestinians are prepared to negotiate land swaps with Israel, a recognition that some West Bank settlements will remain part of Israel in the framework of a future deal.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, has largely remained quiet. The strategy within the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem seems to be to wait and hope not to be blamed for preventing the success of the peace talks Trump is planning to restart following his visit on May 22.

As reported earlier this week in Maariv and the Post, the person responsible for this change in Abbas is Ronald Lauder, the American billionaire and head of the World Jewish Congress, who is one of the closest people to Trump. Lauder has publicly said that he has known Trump for over 50 years and that he is a “great and true friend” of Israel.

Before Abbas met with Trump last week, he stopped by Lauder’s house for dinner and got briefed on ways to win over the president. To some, it seems that Lauder has bypassed Sheldon Adelson as the most influential Jew in Trump’s circle.

Lauder has been pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal for years and was in Cairo two months ago for a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ahead of the Egyptian leader’s visit to the White House. Lauder, sources say, seems to have been tapped by the president as something of a semi-official envoy to the region with an emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Politicians who spoke to Lauder at Sunday’s Jerusalem Post Conference in New York later told the Post that he told them about his meeting with Abbas. At the same time, Netanyahu told confidants that he was furious over the American Jewish leader’s involvement.

“You don’t understand how much influence he has over Trump,” the prime minister told a confidant in a private conversation this week.

“Out of the people around Trump, he is my biggest challenge to overcome.”