Archive for the ‘Palestinian Authority’ category

How Israel Would Become Palestine

February 20, 2017

How Israel Would Become Palestine, The Jewish PressFred Maroun, February 19, 2017

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If Israel annexes the West Bank, the Jewish majority in Israel would be reduced immediately from 75% to between 56% and 57%, and the Arab minority in Israel would double from 21% to between 40% and 41%.

While Jews would retain a clear majority immediately after annexation, the Arabs’ influence on government would increase dramatically. Arab parties have been kept out of every governing coalition in Israel’s history, but the continuation of that practice would be almost impossible when Arabs represent 40% to 41% of the population. It would require that all Jewish parties, from left to right, always agree to work together after every election; sooner or later, that Jewish-only coalition would break up.

There is not much that is uncertain in this common-sense scenario resulting from annexation of the West bank, other than how long it would take to unravel. The end result is that Israel, which would likely be renamed Palestine, would no longer be a Jewish state by any definition of the term.

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The idea of Israel annexing the West Bank was tentatively endorsed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin who insisted that if this occurred, Palestinians living in the West Bank must be given Israeli citizenship. US President Donald Trump signaled that he is willing to accept a one-state solution, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lack of response to Trump indicates that he is not opposed to it either.

Based on the Jewish Virtual Library, in Israel, as of January 2017, “The Jewish population makes up 6,450,000 (74.8%); 1,796,000 (20.8%) are Arabs; and, those identified as ‘others’ (non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, etc) make up 4.4% of the population (384,000 people)”. Based on the Jerusalem Post, “Current estimates of the West Bank population, according to Israeli, Palestinian and US numbers, put the number of Palestinians at anywhere between 2.7 and 2.9 million.”

If Israel annexes the West Bank, the Jewish majority in Israel would be reduced immediately from 75% to between 56% and 57%, and the Arab minority in Israel would double from 21% to between 40% and 41%.

While Jews would retain a clear majority immediately after annexation, the Arabs’ influence on government would increase dramatically. Arab parties have been kept out of every governing coalition in Israel’s history, but the continuation of that practice would be almost impossible when Arabs represent 40% to 41% of the population. It would require that all Jewish parties, from left to right, always agree to work together after every election; sooner or later, that Jewish-only coalition would break up.

As Arab parties negotiate to be included in governing coalitions, some of their priorities would become government policy. Arab policies that are outright anti-Zionist would be rejected at first, but other priorities would have to be accepted.

One of the first priorities to be demanded by Arab parties is likely to be the immigration into Israel of relatives of Israeli Arab citizens, including some Palestinian refugees residing in Arab countries and some Palestinians residing in Gaza. This would have the effect of further increasing the size of the Arab minority, which would lead to even more Arab clout in the government.

Other Arab demands would have to be met, including immigration of more Palestinian refugees into Israel and the annexation of Gaza. Eventually, Arab parties would be able to govern with little or no Jewish representation. As Arabs control the Israeli government, they would eliminate laws that discriminate against them, including the unlimited Jewish right of return, perhaps even replacing it with an unlimited Palestinian “right of return”.

There is not much that is uncertain in this common-sense scenario resulting from annexation of the West bank, other than how long it would take to unravel. The end result is that Israel, which would likely be renamed Palestine, would no longer be a Jewish state by any definition of the term.

Trump: Palestinians Must Earn a Two State Solution

February 17, 2017

Trump: Palestinians Must Earn a Two State Solution, Gatestone InstituteAlan M. Dershowitz, February 17, 2017

(Please see also, On Israel, Trump Confuses only the Confused. — DM)

President Trump raised eyebrows when he mentioned the possibility of a one state solution. The context was ambiguous and no one can know for sure what message he was intending to convey. One possibility is that he was telling the Palestinian leadership that if they want a two state  solution, they have to do something. They have to come to the negotiating table with the Israelis and make the kinds of painful sacrifices that will be required from both sides for a peaceful resolution to be achieved. Put most directly, the Palestinians must earn the right to a state. They are not simply entitled to statehood, especially since their leaders missed so many opportunities over the years to secure a state. As Abba Eben once put it: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

It began back in the 1930s, when Great Britain established the Peale Commission which was tasked to recommend a solution to the conflict between Arabs and Jews in mandatory Palestine. It recommended a two state solution with a tiny noncontiguous Jewish state alongside a large Arab state. The Jewish leadership reluctantly accepted this sliver of a state; the Palestinian leadership rejected the deal, saying they wanted there to be no Jewish state more than they wanted a state of their own.

In 1947, the United Nations partitioned mandatory Palestine into two areas: one for a Jewish state; the other for an Arab state. The Jews declared statehood on 1948; all the surrounding Arab countries joined the local Arab population in attacking the new state of Israel and killing one percent of its citizens, but Israel survived.

In 1967, Egypt and Syria were planning to attack and destroy Israel, but Israel preempted and won a decisive victory, capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Sinai. Israel offered to return captured areas in exchange for peace, but the Arabs met with Palestinian leaders in Khartoum and issued their three infamous “no’s”: no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation.

In 2000-2001 and again in 2008, Israel made generous peace offers that would have established a demilitarized Palestinian state, but these offers were not accepted. And for the past several years, the current Israeli government has offered to sit down and negotiate a two state solution with no pre-conditions– not even advanced recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The Palestinian leadership has refused to negotiate.

President Trump may be telling them that if they want a state they have to show up at the negotiating table and bargain for it. No one is going to hand it to them on a silver platter in the way that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon handed over the Gaza strip in 2005, only to see it turned into a launching pad for terror rockets and terror tunnels. Israel must get something in return: namely real peace and a permanent end to the conflict.

The Palestinian leadership’s unwillingness to come to the negotiating table reminds me of my mother’s favorite Jewish joke about Sam, a 79 year old man who prayed every day for God to let him win the New York lottery before he turns 80. On the eve of his 80th birthday, he rails against God:

“All these years I’ve prayed to you every day asking to win the lottery. You couldn’t give me that one little thing!” God responded: “Sam, you have to help me out here– buy a ticket!!”

The Palestinians haven’t bought a ticket. They haven’t negotiated in good faith. They haven’t accepted generous offers. They haven’t made realistic counter proposals. They haven’t offered sacrifices to match those offered by the Israelis.

Now President Trump is telling them that they have to “buy a ticket.” They are not going to get a state by going to the United Nations, the European Union or the international criminal court. They aren’t going to get a state as a result of the BDS or other anti-Israel movements. They will only get a state if they sit down and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis.

The Obama Administration applied pressures only to the Israeli side, not to the Palestinians. The time has come – indeed it is long past – for the United States to tell the Palestinians in no uncertain terms that they must negotiate with Israel if they want a Palestinian state, and they must agree to end the conflict, permanently and unequivocally. Otherwise, the status quo will continue, and there will be only one state, and that state will be Israel.

The Palestinians are not going to win the lottery without buying a ticket.

The art of the ‘no deal’ with the PA

February 14, 2017

The art of the ‘no deal’ with the PA, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, February 14, 2017

Meanwhile, even Fatah and Hamas can’t bury the hatchet, other than literally, in the backs of one another’s operatives. But the one thing the two terrorist groups do share is a mutual antipathy to Israel and the aim to eradicate the Jewish state. The author of “The Art of the Deal” and his secretary of state will learn this soon enough, if they don’t know it already. In any case, the appointment of world-renowned expert in Islamic terrorism Sebastian Gorka as deputy assistant to the president is a sign that they want to be told the truth. Let us hope that Netanyahu feels welcome and comfortable enough during his visit in Washington to do the same.

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There is much speculation about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming meeting at the White House with U.S. President Donald Trump. Typically, rather than waiting to hear the outcome of Wednesday’s deliberation, Israelis have been analyzing a conversation that has yet to take place, and weighing in on the extent to which the Jewish state can count on the new administration in Washington to embrace the policies of the Israeli government, and on the level of personal chemistry that emerges between the two leaders.

The assumption is that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers in July 2015 — will be on the agenda, and that the issue of achieving a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be raised. The second topic includes several directly related issues, such as the possibility of the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the newly passed Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law, which retroactively grants permits to a number of outposts on privately owned Palestinian land.

Whatever the upshot of the meeting, however, one thing is certain: The Trump administration will not be able to broker an agreement that resolves the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, no matter how talented, smart or well-intentioned Jared Kushner — the president’s son-in-law who is purportedly being charged with this task — may be.

The charade in which Netanyahu has participated since he announced his conditional support for Palestinian statehood in a televised address to the nation in June 2009, is that there is a “solution” to the ongoing war waged by the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, Gaza and east Jerusalem against the very existence of the Jewish state. Netanyahu knows better than anybody else that this is as much an exercise in rhetoric as it is in futility. He is fully aware that the only way for peace to be possible is for the Palestinians to oust their corrupt and evil leaders in Fatah and Hamas and — in striving for the freedom and prosperity they have been denied by the honchos in Ramallah and Gaza City — emulate Israeli society.

If such a day ever comes, no more than five minutes will be required for the sides to agree on the technicalities — maybe 10, if the negotiators get stuck in traffic on the way to the table.

The same holds true for Iran, which is why the JCPOA was not flawed due to the wording of its clauses, but rather to the fact that the mullah-led regime in Tehran had no intention of reaching any genuine agreement with the “infidels” it wishes to annihilate. Its goal was not to have international sanctions lifted in order to get on with the business of improving the economic lot of the Iranian people. It simply wanted a more unfettered path to obtaining nuclear weapons with which to impose its hegemony on the Middle East and force the rest of the world to capitulate to its Islamist will.

Meanwhile, even Fatah and Hamas can’t bury the hatchet, other than literally, in the backs of one another’s operatives. But the one thing the two terrorist groups do share is a mutual antipathy to Israel and the aim to eradicate the Jewish state. The author of “The Art of the Deal” and his secretary of state will learn this soon enough, if they don’t know it already. In any case, the appointment of world-renowned expert in Islamic terrorism Sebastian Gorka as deputy assistant to the president is a sign that they want to be told the truth. Let us hope that Netanyahu feels welcome and comfortable enough during his visit in Washington to do the same.

Ahead of Netanyahu-Trump talks, Abbas woos Iran

February 13, 2017

Ahead of Netanyahu-Trump talks, Abbas woos Iran, DEBKAfile, February 13, 2017

He is warning Trump that the US embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem and the strengthening of US-Israeli ties would be countered by a parallel enhancement of Palestinian relations with Tehran. The message to Vladmir Putin is that, even though he is fully engaged in Syria, he can’t afford to abandon the Palestinians; Abdel-Fatteh El- Sisi, the Gulf rulers and Jordan’s monarch are put on notice that if they have a problem with rising Iranian influence in Baghdad, they had better be prepared to find Tehran’s imprint in Ramallah too.

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EXCLUSIVE: Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has pivoted towards Iran in a move to pre-empt a possibly impending US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the friendly talks scheduled to take place in Washington Wednesday, Feb. 15, between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

This is revealed by DEBKAfile’s exclusive intelligence sources.

Our sources report that the Abbas has opened a direct channel of communications between Ramallah and Tehran as a permanent fixture. Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub is in charge of the Palestinian end of the relationship and will lead the first official Palestinian delegation to Tehran.

For some months now, he has served as Abbas’s senior spokesman and the Palestinian Authority’s “foreign minister.” In the third week of January, Rajoub declared: “In our opinion moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war on the Muslims.”

Two weeks ago, Palestinian and Iranian delegations met secretly for the first time in a European country. Two more encounters followed and dealt with such urgent matters as the fate of Palestinians stranded on Syria’s battlefronts and in former refugee camps. They also discussed the Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon and their problematic relations with Iran’s Shiite surrogate, Hizballah.

At their third meeting, the Iranian delegates asked where the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah stood vis-a-vis a political resolution of the Syrian conflict. They decided to talk about this some more at the next Iranian-Palestinian meeting on a date this month and a location yet to be arranged.

As part of his pivot towards Tehran, Abbas made sure to send the Palestinian Authority’s warm congratulations to Iran’s rulers on the anniversary of their Islamic revolution: He asked God “to bring more stability and prosperity to Iran and its brotherly people as they celebrate this occasion, and more progress and advancement the brotherly relations between our peoples.”

Abu Mazen’s pro-Iranian shift is intended as a signal to five parties, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report: President Trump, the Presidents of Russian and Egypt, the rulers of the Gulf Emirates and King Abdullah of Jordan.

He is warning Trump that the US embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem and the strengthening of US-Israeli ties would be countered by a parallel enhancement of Palestinian relations with Tehran. The message to Vladmir Putin is that, even though he is fully engaged in Syria, he can’t afford to abandon the Palestinians; Abdel-Fatteh El- Sisi, the Gulf rulers and Jordan’s monarch are put on notice that if they have a problem with rising Iranian influence in Baghdad, they had better be prepared to find Tehran’s imprint in Ramallah too.

White House Puts Palestinians, United Nations in Crosshairs

February 13, 2017

White House Puts Palestinians, United Nations in Crosshairs, Washington Free Beacon, February 13, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following their talks at the White House in Washington on Feb. 10, 2017. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following their talks at the White House in Washington on Feb. 10, 2017. (Kyodo)

White House officials, as well as senior sources in Congress, told the Free Beacon that the move is part of a larger effort to solidify U.S. support for Israel and counter a range of last-minute moves by the former Obama administration aimed at severing U.S.-Israel ties.

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The White House is sending a strong signal that it will no longer tolerate Palestinian intransigence at the United Nations or the international body’s long record of anti-Israel action, according to White House officials and sources in Congress who told the Washington Free Beacon that the Trump administration will “unabashedly support Israel” in the months and years ahead.

The Trump administration sent shockwaves through the U.N. late last week when it took a stance against the appointment of a senior Palestinian official to serve in a top post overseeing Libya.

Senior officials at Turtle Bay expressed outrage over the Trump administration’s move to block the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as a special U.N. representative for Libya. The move was widely supported by U.N. members, and, for a time, the Trump administration.

Sources inside the White House told the Free Beacon that the move was meant to send a signal to the Palestinians that they can no longer manipulate the U.N. system in order to bolster their international clout. This type of action, the sources said, undermines Israel and the ongoing peace process.

White House officials, as well as senior sources in Congress, told the Free Beacon that the move is part of a larger effort to solidify U.S. support for Israel and counter a range of last-minute moves by the former Obama administration aimed at severing U.S.-Israel ties.

The Free Beacon first reported earlier this year that the Trump administration and Congress had already been working on a range of measures meant to boost U.S. support for Israel at the U.N.

“The United States was disappointed to see a letter indicating the intention to appoint the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister to lead the U.N. Mission in Libya,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said in a statement opposing the selection of Fayyad. “For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”

“The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution,” Haley said in a vast departure from Obama administration rhetoric. “Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

A senior White House official familiar with the move told the Free Beacon that the Palestinians will no longer get a free pass to push their anti-Israel agenda and win statehood outside the parameters of the peace process.

“It is so refreshing to have an American ambassador to the United Nations who will unabashedly support our ally Israel,” one senior member of the White House’s National Security Council told the Free Beacon. “The appointment of Salam Fayyad as the official U.N. envoy to Libya would be an incremental step towards unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood by the U.N. absent an agreement with Israel.”

“Ambassador Haley took the only appropriate action and we are looking to supporting her actions any way we can,” the source said.

One senior congressional aide who works on Middle East issues told the Free Beacon that Trump’s approach to the U.N. is centered on backing Israel from any action that could harm its interests.

“The U.N. is not a friend of Israel. After the Obama administration’s eleventh-hour attack on the Jewish state, President Trump is attempting to turn the page,”  the source said. “Our new administration is already pushing back against the U.N.’s rampant bias and reasserting America’s strong support for Israel. This is a good step in the right direction.”

Fayyad, who is widely viewed as a reformer in Palestinian society, appears to have been caught up in a larger battle between the White House and U.N. over the international body’s efforts to delegitimize Israel.

While Fayyad was seen as an acceptable pick for the Libya post, his ties to the Palestinian Authority and its rogue efforts to achieve statehood via the U.N. provoked ire in the White House, sources said.

The White House is determined to keep what it views as the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias in check, particularly after the Obama administration’s last-minute efforts to secure a resolution condemning Israel.

One senior official at a national pro-Israel organization said the Trump administration’s moves would help preserve international agreements barring the Palestinians from seeking statehood outside of the peace process.

“Pro-Palestinian officials at the U.N. thought they had found a clever way to mainstream the Palestinians as legitimate state actors, which is contrary to American policy and violates two decades of signed agreements between the Palestinians and Israel,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “They figured that the Trump White House would be too worried about optics to take a stand on behalf of our Israeli allies. The White House refused to be intimidated.”

Regional experts tracking the issue think Fayyad could become a lighting rod in a larger matter surrounding U.S. opposition to any U.N. action meant to elevate the Palestinians on the international stage.

Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that the controversy surrounding Fayyad actually benefits Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, who fought against Fayyad’s efforts to eradicate corruption.

“The thing people are not asking is why Fayyad was even considering working the Libya file instead of trying to reform the Palestinian Authority at home,” Schanzer said. “The answer is, Fayyad was pushed out by Mahmoud Abbas in 2013. He and Abbas were in an epic battle over corruption and clean governance and reform. Fayyad lost that battle, as Abbas went full dictator.”

The Obama administration is responsible for allowing Fayyad to be pushed out of the Palestinian Authority, Schanzer said.

“The U.S. refused to come to Fayyad’s defense. I lay this at the feet of the Obama administration,” he said. “Fayyad’s reform and clean governance program was gutted, and when Fayyad created an NGO it was raided by Abbas’ forces—and still the Obama admin refused to lift a finger to help him.”

Bravo to Ambassador Haley, for Blocking UN Ploy on ‘Palestine’

February 12, 2017

Bravo to Ambassador Haley, for Blocking UN Ploy on ‘Palestine’, PJ Media,  Claudia Rosett, February 11, 2017

(Please see also, US blocks former Palestinian prime minister from senior UN role in Libya ‘out of support for Israel’.  Thought experiment: what would the reactions, noted in the article linked in the preceding sentence, have been if a “right-wing” former Israeli cabinet minister had been named to the post?– DM)

nikkiUnited Nations, New York, USA, 27 January, 2017 – Nikki R. Haley, new United States Permanent Representative to the UN Presents Credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. (Photo by Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire) (Sipa via AP Images)

Haley’s statement is important not only for its broad message — that President Trump’s administration will steer by his pledges of support to Israel — but also for calling out Guterres on his not-so-subtle attempt to abet the UN’s long push to confer by increments on the Palestinian Authority a legitimacy it has not earned.

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On Thursday United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent the Security Council a letter nominating as the new head of the UN’s mission to Libya a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad —  who was described in the letter as “Salam Fayyad (Palestine).”

America’s new ambassador, Nikki Haley, said no. Having thus blocked Fayyad’s appointment, Haley then put out a statement explaining why:

For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution. Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.

Haley’s statement is important not only for its broad message — that President Trump’s administration will steer by his pledges of support to Israel — but also for calling out Guterres on his not-so-subtle attempt to abet the UN’s long push to confer by increments on the Palestinian Authority a legitimacy it has not earned.

The UN spokesman’s office responded by Haley’s objection by sending out a statement that:

The proposal for Salam Fayyad to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Libya was solely based on Mr. Fayyad’s recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position.

United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country.

This UN claim is disingenuous in the extreme, as the UN spokesman’s office itself then underscored, in the rest of the same statement quoted just above, by saying:

The Secretary-General reiterates his pledge to recruit qualified individuals, respecting regional diversity, and notes that, among others no Israeli and no Palestinian have served in a post of high responsibility at the United Nations. This is a situation that the Secretary-General feels should be corrected, always based on personal merit and competencies of potential candidates for specific posts.

In other words, Secretary-General Guterres, while disavowing any interest in the origins or potential loyalties of any candidate for a UN post, is simultaneously claiming a special interest in appointing — specifically — Israelis and Palestinians. And — lo and behold — Guterres just happens to have kicked off this erstwhile neutral campaign by nominating to a high-level post not an Israeli, but a Palestinian.

On a related note, to which Haley and her colleagues in the Trump administration might want to pay serious attention, there’s some news broken by Inner-City Press and further reported by veteran UN reporter Benny Avni, writing in the New York Sun (sources that often provide a lot more insight into the UN than you’re likely to find in, say, the New York Times; with further disclosure that the New York Sun has published many of my own articles on the UN). According to both Inner-City Press and the Sun, it appears that an influential voice behind Guterres’s nomination of Fayyad was that of the UN’s undersecretary general for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

Feltman is an American, a former U.S. diplomat, who was appointed to his UN post in mid-2012, during President Obama’s first term in office. The UN fiction, as in the case of Fayyad’s nomination, is that such appointments have nothing to do with where a person comes from. That’s malarkey. Behind the scenes, a U.S. administration has plenty of say in such appointments.

In Feltman’s case, the longer he remains at the UN, the more opportunity he will have to try to inveigle more ground for Obama’s pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel policies, while undermining Trump’s agenda for decent treatment of Israel. According to Inner-City Press, Feltman has plenty of incentive to stay on at the UN “until July 4 so that his UN pension vests.” I have no direct confirmation of this situation, and Inner-City attributes its information to unnamed sources. But at the very least, Haley and her team should be in a position to find out what’s going on with Feltman’s continued presence as the UN’s senior official for political affairs, and do something about it. The UN’s chronic efforts to undermine Israel and confer undeserved legitimacy on the Palestinians are quite bad enough, without being driven by qualifying dates for UN pension packages.

For the U.S. to pressure the UN to replace Feltman immediately would be an excellent move. If Guterres — with his paradoxical prerequisites for UN staff —  still wants to place not only Palestinians but Israelis in high-level UN posts, surely to replace Feltman he could find an Israeli nominee who would be entirely acceptable to the U.S., not least on grounds of his or her personal qualities and competence.

Israel Foils Another Hamas Kidnapping and Murder Plot

February 7, 2017

Israel Foils Another Hamas Kidnapping and Murder Plot, Investigative Project on Terrorism, February 6, 2017

Hamas actively seeks to recruit and mobilize terrorists in the West Bank to form cells dedicated to killing Israelis in an effort to spark chaos and eventually take over the Palestinian Authority.

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Israeli security forces indicted three Palestinians Monday, saying they were part of a Hamas terrorist cell planning to kidnap and kill Israelis in the West Bank and within Israel.

According to the indictment, Hamas officials in Gaza sent instructions to the terrorists via Facebook, explaining how to carry out shooting attacks, detonate explosives, and coordinate kidnappings around Hebron. The cell also scouted several locations within Israel for future attacks, including a bus station in Afula, a military base, the Binyamina Train Station, and a synagogue. The terrorists gained important information about the targets while working in Israel illegally.

To facilitate the attacks, the terrorists saved about $270 per month to buy weapons, build bombs and recruit other Palestinians.

“The uncovering of the infrastructure and activities it planned demonstrates the high threat level posed by Hamas militants, especially those who enter Israel and remain their [sic] illegally,” according to the Shin Bet.

Israeli authorities have foiled several Hamas terrorist plots since the latest wave of Palestinian violence, which peaked in October 2015. While most attacks were largely individual terrorist initiatives, groups like Hamas and even Hizballah sought to hijack the popular uprising by planning and coordinating terrorist attacks. Both organizations failed to execute a sophisticated attack thus far due to vigilant Israeli intelligence practices.

In January 2016, Shin Bet foiled a Hamas terror cell seeking to kidnap and kill Israelis in hopes of using their victims’ bodies to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. A similar motivation encouraged Hamas affiliated terrorists behind the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, which eventually led to a full-fledged war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Palestinian terrorists continue to provoke Israel, launching a rocket Monday from Gaza into southern Israel and firing at Israeli soldiers working on the Gaza border fence. In response, the Israeli military targeted several Hamas positions in Gaza with airstrikes and artillery shells.

Last week, a senior Israeli military official told Israel’s Channel 2 that Hamas has regained its military capabilities since the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas continues to invest considerable resources to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of civilian reconstruction efforts.

In the meantime, Hamas actively seeks to recruit and mobilize terrorists in the West Bank to form cells dedicated to killing Israelis in an effort to spark chaos and eventually take over the Palestinian Authority.