Posted tagged ‘Arab nations’

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan?

November 13, 2017

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan? Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, November 13, 2017

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

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No American or European on the face of this earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Who said that Palestinians have no respect for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries? They do.

Palestinians have respect for the money of their Arab brethren. The respect they lack is for the heads of the Arab states, and the regimes and royal families there.

It is important to take this into consideration in light of the growing talk about Saudi Arabia’s effort to help the Trump Administration market a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East, the details of which remain intriguingly mysterious.

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict, reportedly being promoted by Jared Kushner.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Saudis pressured Abbas to endorse the Trump Administration’s “peace plan.” Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. At this stage, it remains unclear how Abbas responded to the Saudi “ultimatum.”

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict. Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. Pictured: Abbas on a previous visit to Saudi Arabia, on February 23, 2015, meeting with Saudi King Salman. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

If true, the Saudi “ultimatum” to Abbas is tantamount to asking him to sign his death warrant. Abbas cannot afford to be seen by his people as being in collusion with an American “peace plan” that does not comply completely with their demands. Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that he will not accept anything less than a sovereign Palestinian state on all the pre-1967 lands, including east Jerusalem. He has also emphasized that the Palestinians will never give up the “right of return” for millions of “refugees” to their former homes inside Israel. Moreover, Abbas has clarified that the Palestinians will not accept the presence of any Israeli in their future Palestinian state.

Abbas has done his dirty work well. He knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what he promised them. He knows that his people have been radicalized to the point that they will not agree to any concessions or compromise with Israel.

And who is responsible for this radicalization? Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, who continue unendingly to tell their people through the media, discourse and mosques that any concession to Israel constitutes treason, pure and simple.

So it would be naïve to think that Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country would be able to strong-arm any Palestinian leader to accept a “peace plan” that requires the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. Abbas may have much respect for the ambitious and savvy young crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. This respect, however, certainly stops at the border of the political suicide – and extreme personal risk — from Abbas’s point of view.

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

Nevertheless, no American or European on the face of this Earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

For now, it appears that the vast majority of Arab regimes no longer care about the Palestinians and their leaders. The Palestinians despise the Arab leaders as much as they despise each other. It is a mutual feeling. The Palestinians particularly despise any Arab leader who is aligned with the US. They do not consider the US an honest broker in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinians, in fact, view the US as being “biased” in favor of Israel, regardless of whether the man sitting in the Oval Office is a Democrat or Republican.

The Saudi crown prince is viewed by Palestinians as a US ally. His close relations with Jared Kushner are seen with suspicion not only by Palestinians, but by many other Arabs as well. Palestinian political analysts such as Faisal Abu Khadra believe that the Palestinian leadership should prepare itself to face the “mysterious” Trump “peace plan.” They are skeptical that the plan would meet the demands of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians appear to be united in rejecting the Trump Administration’s effort to “impose” a solution on them. They are convinced that the Americans, with the help of Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries, are working towards “liquidating” the Palestinian cause. Abbas and his rivals in Hamas now find themselves dreading the US administration’s “peace plan.”

Like lemmings drawn to the sea, the Palestinians seem to be marching towards yet another scenario where they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Bassam Tawil, a Muslim, is based in the Middle East.

Senior Abbas Advisor: We Won’t Stop Fighting for Palestine Until It is ‘Purified of the Impious Existence of Jews’

November 12, 2017

Senior Abbas Advisor: We Won’t Stop Fighting for Palestine Until It is ‘Purified of the Impious Existence of Jews’, BreitbartDeborah Danan, November 12, 2017

AP/Muhammed Muheisen

Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali of India’s Telangana said that witnessing the “Jews’ atrocities against Palestinians” makes one “understand why Hitler carried out the massacre of Jews.”

“In Hitler’s words, wherever Jews lived, they created conflict,” he said.

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TEL AVIV – Palestinian martyrs will not stop fighting for Palestine until it is completely purged of the Jews, a senior religious adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared at a recent conference held in India.

Other Arab diplomats – including Syria’s Ambassador to India – accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians and said Hitler’s motive for killing Jews was thus understandable.

The aim of the October 29 conference, which took place in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, was to express solidarity between Indians and Palestinians, MEMRI reported. In addition to Palestinian officials, the day-long conference was attended by delegates and ambassadors from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, among others.

Chief Sharia Justice and religious affairs adviser to Abbas, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, made a speech in which he declared, “Every Palestinian will continue the struggle till the complete freedom of Palestine.”

“Those who started the movement for the freedom of Palestine took a pledge, while leaving this world, from the next generation that it will continue this struggle until the land … is purified of the impious existence of Jews,” he said.

“Yasser Arafat, Amin Al-Hussein, and many martyrs like them fought for the freedom of Palestine till the last breath of their lives,” he added.

Habbash continued by slamming Britain for its role in the establishment of the State of Israel.

“Britain is responsible for Israel’s occupation supremacy on Palestinian land,” he said. “This year, on November 2, 2017, the British government is celebrating 100 years of the Balfour Declaration. The world of humanity should condemn this.”

Habbash extolled the United Nations for giving “Palestine” full status.

He also said Israel was “stunned by the Intifada movement of Palestinian youths.”

“It cannot bear the stones of Palestinian youths. Allah will help Palestinians, will deliver them justice,” he added.

Syrian Ambassador Riad Kamil Abbas also addressed the conference, saying that the fight against Bashar Assad’s regime was also a fight “against Palestine.”

“Syria considers the Palestinian problem its own problem, and that of the Arab world. Those who have conspired against Palestinians are the same people who are active against Syria,” he said.

He added that Israel’s “atrocities” towards the Palestinians were “a crime against humanity, genocide.”

Abbas added that the Islamic State terror group was created by the West.

Iraqi Ambassador Fakhri Hassan Al-Issa told the conference: “Iraq has always been a supporter of the Palestinian cause and has been supporting international efforts against Israel’s cruel occupation to succeed.”

Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali of India’s Telangana said that witnessing the “Jews’ atrocities against Palestinians” makes one “understand why Hitler carried out the massacre of Jews.”

“In Hitler’s words, wherever Jews lived, they created conflict,” he said.

The conference organizers – part of an NGO called the Indo-Arab League – offered free land for a Palestinian consulate in the city. According to Indo-Arab League Chairman Syed Vicaruddin, the consulate will help strengthen “relations between India and Palestine and facilitate Muslims wanting to visit Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.” Vicaruddin also announced a cultural hall to be established “in memory of Palestinian martyrs.”

Iraq Without Iran? Riyadh Takes the Lead

August 22, 2017

Iraq Without Iran? Riyadh Takes the Lead, Iran News Update, August 21, 2017

Iran’s eviction from Iraq must come along with efforts to end its presence in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. The Iranian regime’s meddling and the IRGC’s presence across the region are the main obstacles to establishing peace in the region. Support by the Arab world for Iraq will fill the economic void. The US Congress’ new bill against the IRGC, give Riyadh the chance to expel all IRGC members, and Iran-related elements from the region.This will allow peace in the Middle East.

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INU – Iraq was traditionally known as a homogeneous society, where Arabs, Kurds and Turks lived alongside and in mixed societies for centuries. Before Iran’s meddling the majority of Shiites lived and prospered with their Sunni, Christian, Yazidi and other religious neighbors.

Now that we’ve witnessed the liberation of Mosul, the battle for the town of Tal Afar is predicted to end soon. This opens an opportunity for Iraq to distance itself from Iran.

Iraqi officials have been visiting Saudi Arabia and other Arab Sunni states, signaling that changes may be in store. Late in July, the Sadrist leader Muqtada was seen meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. Days later, Sadr also visited the United Arab Emirates, who has also criticized Iran’s policies. During Sadr’s visit, launching a Saudi Consulate in Najaf, one of the two holiest Shiite cities in Iraq, was proposed, and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, did not block the proposition.

Iran has criticized Sadr’s visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, calling it an act of betrayal to the Houthis in Yemen.

However, Sadr is also planning a visit to Egypt, and other senior Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, oil and transportation plan to visit Saudi Arabia.

After 14 years invested in Iraq, Iran has not been the recipient of visits of such high stature.

Iran’s has taken the credit for much of the fight against ISIS on the ground, but it stands accused of violations of the law and refusing to obey the state of Iraq. This has become a major issue for former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is known to have close relations with Tehran and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

As well, Majid al-Nasrawi, governor of Basra recently left for Iran. He is accused by a government transparency committee of numerous corruption offenses.

There are also major talks underway between Baghdad and Riyadh to establish a new alliance that would provide Saudi Arabia a leading role in rebuilding war-torn cities across Iraq. In fact, on August 14th, the Cabinet of Saudi Arabia announced a coordination committee to spearhead a variety of health care and humanitarian projects, including building hospitals in Baghdad and Basra, and providing fellowships to Iraqi students in Saudi universities. Also on the agenda are talks of opening border crossings and establishing free trade areas between the two countries. Riyadh is leading the way for the Arab world against Tehran’s interests in Iraq.

Iran’s eviction from Iraq must come along with efforts to end its presence in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. The Iranian regime’s meddling and the IRGC’s presence across the region are the main obstacles to establishing peace in the region. Support by the Arab world for Iraq will fill the economic void. The US Congress’ new bill against the IRGC, give Riyadh the chance to expel all IRGC members, and Iran-related elements from the region.This will allow peace in the Middle East.

Deadly False Narratives Drove the Temple Mount Crisis

August 2, 2017

Deadly False Narratives Drove the Temple Mount Crisis, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, August 2, 2017

Until the attack, Israel had been relying on intelligence alerts, rather than physical security measures, to defend the site. But the shootings led the Israel Police to ask the Israeli government to beef up security, and install metal detectors.

The government agreed, despite the misgivings of the Israeli defense establishment, which was concerned that the move would fuel the propaganda of fundamentalist forces, leading to unrest and instability.

Iran helped fuel the unrestIsrael Hayom reported, by sending protesters “tens of thousands of … prepackaged meals along with notes in each one citing a famous quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: ‘With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.’ The note also depicted the Dome of the Rock and the Palestinian flag.”

Additionally, a senior Iranian official reportedly met with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad representatives in Iran, offering them assistance for Palestinians injured in clashes. The IRGC released a statement, condemning “the Zionist regime’s  aggressive and criminal actions against Al-Aqsa mosque.”

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The crisis between Israel and the Palestinians that raged in recent weeks over the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa holy site in Jerusalem has died down, but the affair provides important clues about the rising ability of fundamentalist Islamists to seize control of the narrative.

Radical rhetoric espoused by those who sought to inflame religious conflict dominated the Temple Mount crisis.

“Israel wants more than ever before to implement its plan for complete control over al-Aksa Mosque,” Hamas politburo chief Ismael Haniyeh said, even after Israel moved to defuse the situation. Days earlier, Hamas had called for a “religious war” against Israel.

Islamists in Gaza, Jordan, east Jerusalem, and within the Israeli Arab community, had the upper hand in their ability to push their interpretation of events. They claim Israel wants to take over the holy site and destroy the mosque to make way for a third Temple. This baseless narrative sweeps away the terrorist attack that caused the crisis and presented three Palestinians killed in subsequent clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem as martyrs who died defending Islam.

Not to be outdone by their Islamist rivals, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders peddled the same falsehoods. Religious Affairs Minister Sheikh Yusuf Idai’is told the official PA television channel that Israel “has plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and establish the alleged Temple in its place.”

Those seeking religious strife were able to mobilize masses onto the streets, with the help of self-organizing demonstrators and rioters who were infected with the Islamist fervor, and spread it themselves on social media.

Together, these elements forced pragmatic Arab leaders – who do not subscribe to Islamist ideology – to adopt the Islamist narrative, and to deal with Israel as if it was guilty of the Islamic hard-liners’ fabricated accusations.

A recap: The crisis erupted when a terrorist jihadist cell, made up of three Arab-Israeli gunmen, used firearms smuggled into the Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – to shoot dead two Israeli police officers. Security forces then returned fire, killing the gunmen.

Until the attack, Israel had been relying on intelligence alerts, rather than physical security measures, to defend the site. But the shootings led the Israel Police to ask the Israeli government to beef up security, and install metal detectors.

The government agreed, despite the misgivings of the Israeli defense establishment, which was concerned that the move would fuel the propaganda of fundamentalist forces, leading to unrest and instability.

The defense establishment’s concerns came true. Rioting erupted in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Mass demonstrations were held in Israel’s eastern neighbor, Jordan, and included members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.

A Palestinian knife attacker, pledging to “die for Al-Aqsa” on his Facebook page, massacred three members of an Israeli family in their home in the West Bank.

All of these events were driven by incitement to religious violence. The unrest was sparked by the false accusation that Israel was seeking to change the status quo at Al-Aqsa, and that the site needed defending from Israelis schemes. It is a conspiracy theory that has been peddled by Palestinian hardliners for decades, dating back to the days of Hajj Amin Al Husseini in the 1920s and 30s.

Hamas in Gaza and Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the Temple Mount shooters as “heroic,” and called for more attacks. They issued a rallying call to defend Al-Aqsa. A Salafist-jihadist group in Gaza fired two rockets at southern Israel.

Israel responded with tank fire at a Hamas military post.

Turkey, ruled by a pro-Hamas variant of the Muslim Brotherhood, exploited the tensions to urge all Muslims to “protect Jerusalem,” and called on Israel to end the crisis. Israel’s Foreign Ministry called it “absurd that the Turkish government, which occupies northern Cyprus, brutally represses the Kurdish minority and jails journalists, lectures Israel, the only true democracy in the region. The days of the Ottoman Empire have passed.”

Iran helped fuel the unrestIsrael Hayom reported, by sending protesters “tens of thousands of … prepackaged meals along with notes in each one citing a famous quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: ‘With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.’ The note also depicted the Dome of the Rock and the Palestinian flag.”

Additionally, a senior Iranian official reportedly met with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad representatives in Iran, offering them assistance for Palestinians injured in clashes. The IRGC released a statement, condemning “the Zionist regime’s  aggressive and criminal actions against Al-Aqsa mosque.”

In Israel, Sheikh Raed Saleh, the former leader of the now banned Islamic Movement – a sister organization to Hamas – led a funeral procession for the three Arab Israeli terrorists. Thousands of mourners marched belligerently by the coffins of the terrorists, shouting, “By fire and with blood we will redeem you, Al-Aqsa,” and, “You are the martyrs of Al-Aqsa.”

Palestinian social media buzzed with calls to defend Al-Aqsa. The Islamist narrative had won the day.

Israel tried to challenge this mythology by directly addressing Palestinians. “So that the truth is clear, when did the Temple Mount incidents erupt?” IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai asked in Arabic on Al Jazeera. “A week ago. After a terror attack was committed by three Muslims, who entered the Temple Mount with weapons and opened fire. Israel does not want to change the status quo. This is a clear message to the world from the Muslim world.”

His message appeared to largely fall on deaf ears. With the fundamentalist rhetoric leading the way, even pragmatic Arab leaders, some of whom rely on cooperation with Israel for the very stability of their rule, felt the need to play according to the radical playbook, in order to avoid being tagged as Israel’s ‘abettors.’

The most obvious example was Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. Without Israel’s steps to quell Hamas in the West Bank, Abbas’s Palestinian Authority would have faced multiple armed attempts by Islamists to depose him .

During the Temple Mount unrest, Abbas cut security coordination between his forces and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

“Jerusalem is ours. It is our capital and our sovereignty. As long as the situation in occupied Jerusalem does not return to what it was before July 14 [when Israel installed metal detectors], there will be no changes [in our position],” Abbas said, according to a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translation.

Promoting the lie that the Al-Aqsa Mosque required protection from Israel, Abbas told east Jerusalem Palestinians, “What you did was defend your honor, your religion and your holy sites. It was the true answer to those who wish to harm our holy sites and the principles of our faith. We supported you in what you did and are [still] doing. We decided to suspend the security coordination; [that decision] still holds. We [decided to] defend the holy sites; that still holds as well.”

The Fatah movement, which runs the Palestinian Authority, added fuel to the fire. With the full knowledge that it was risking new clashes, Fatah’s Central Committee called for mass protests.

Egypt and Jordan, both of whom are busy combating Islamist threats at home, called on Israel to remove the metal detectors.

The situation in Jordan became even more complicated when an Israeli embassy guard was stabbed by a local youth. The guard opened fire to defend himself, killing the attacker and accidentally shooting dead a second Jordanian citizen who was nearby.

Jordan’s King Abdullah refused to allow the Israeli guard to leave Amman, reversing his decision only after Israel said it would remove the metal detectors.

King Abdullah, one of the Arab worlds’ most moderate leaders, whose Kingdom shares many common interests with Israel, still felt the need to issue a statement vowing to prevent the “Judaization” of holy sites in Jerusalem.

Jordan controls the Jerusalem Islamic trust in charge of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, called the Waqf. Behind the scenes, Jordan helped end the Temple Mount crisis, which threatened to destabilize it.

The Waqf told Islamic worshipers that they could re-enter the Temple Mount after Israel had removed the metal detectors.

Even after the crisis reached a resolution, the Palestinian Authority remained highly wary of being labeled as a collaborator with Israel.

An aide to Abbas said security coordination with Israel would only be resumed “gradually,” to avoid giving the impression that the Palestinian Authority is too enthusiastic about working with the Israeli military in the West Bank.

The crisis provides a clear indication of the influence that Islamist propaganda has on the area. Even Arab leaders who are directly threatened by radical forces feel they must march according to their drumbeat, or risk their very legitimacy.

Israel’s decision to dismantle the metal detectors was designed to prevent the Islamist pyromaniacs from using the Al-Aqsa crisis to set the region on fire.

The fact that the Islamists came so close to succeeding, however, is the latest indication of who is in charge of the popular narrative in the region.

Editor Of ‘Al-Sharq Al-Awsat’: The Indian Prime Minister’s Visit To Israel – Cause For Arab Envy

July 24, 2017

Editor Of ‘Al-Sharq Al-Awsat’: The Indian Prime Minister’s Visit To Israel – Cause For Arab Envy, MEMRI,July 24, 2017

Following the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel and his failure to visit Ramallah, Ghassan Charbel, editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, published an article about the economic and cultural gaps between the West and the Arab world and about the contrast between Israel’s successes in science and technology and the weaknesses of its Arab neighbors, as reflected in Modi’s Israel visit. Charbel noted that the West pays close attention to issues such as human rights, protection of the environment, and public health, while the Arab world neglects them, which is why Arabs feel envious of the West. As for Israel, Charbel notes its scientific and technological capabilities and what it has to offer to a giant world power such as India, contrasting it with Israel’s neighbors, mired in extremism and internal wars. Charbel notes that in the past India was the first country to support the Palestinians in every way, while today its Prime Minister, upon visiting the region, ignored them completely. According to Charbel, this causes Arabs to feel not only envious but completely defeated.

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (image: watanserb.com)

“The Arab feels envy when he comes into contact with the developed world. A friend of mine fled his country, which is sinking into darkness and despair, and settled in London. He bought a house [there] and waited for the war [in his country] to end. One day, a tree in his small garden bothered him and he decided to ‘execute’ it. He asked his British neighbor if he knew someone who could do the job, and the neighbor laughed [and said], ‘you have no right to kill the tree, even if it belongs to you. First, you have to submit a request to the local council and convince it of the reasons [for your wish to cut down the tree]. The law here protects trees. You have to obtain a permit, and only after that comes the job of the murderer.’

“My friend was astonished. He comes from a world in which an [entire] city can be razed and no one would bat an eyelash. A citizen can be killed, and neither his wife nor his mother will have the right to ask why… A tree here [in Britain] has more rights than a citizen of the [Arab] countries of torture and suffering.

“Envy is neither a useful nor a noble emotion and it usually opens the gates of bitterness and hatred, [yet] it is not unusual for an Arab to suffer from this malady [of envy]. If an Arab visits a museum in a developed country he immediately thinks about what happened to the antiquities in Iraq and in Syria… If he notices the attention paid in Oslo to public health he remembers where the sewage flows in some Arab capital or another.

“Trying to minimize his disappointment, the Arab sometimes searches for excuses for the yawning chasm between him and the developed world. We are in a completely different historical phase. Those countries [in Europe] are reaping the fruits of great events that occurred there and changed the face of the world: the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the ideas of the Renaissance, the separation of church and state, German philosophy, and the huge change in the status of women.

“The Arab feels envy again, [because] the Europeans experienced wars between nationalities and sects, border disputes and plans for conquering and wiping out [the other]. They painted the continent and the whole world with blood – but they emerged in the end with conclusions. The empires became [exhibits on] museum shelves and sentences in history books; borders were transformed into bridges, not walls; [the European] societies accepted the right to be different. Minorities are no longer thought of as mines that must be defused. The constitutions [in Europe] prevent the majority from erasing the characteristics of those who disagree with it. These countries no longer seek historic leaders whose biographies are soaked in blood; they seek governments that devote [themselves] to fighting unemployment, developing the economy, encouraging investments, protecting the environment, and [combatting] the problem of climate change. The visiting Arab is consumed with envy.

“Let us set aside talk of trees and antiquities, since there is worse to come. The Arab notes that [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled all his plans so he could graciously receive his guest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Israel. Another thing that attracted attention was that the guest felt no need to visit Ramallah, which gladdened his hosts. We are talking about India, which was the first to express understanding for the aspirations of the Palestinians and did not hesitate to stand alongside them in international forums…

“Modi evidently sees Israel as a technological lighthouse, and spoke about the need for his gigantic country to benefit from Israel’s capabilities in this sphere. The result was that Modi and Netanyahu signed an agreement worth $2 billion, according to which India will receive the Israeli Iron Dome System to [detect and intercept] rockets and artillery. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to establish an India-Israel Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund. Other agreements included areas such as water, agricultural development in India, and partnership in economic projects in Africa and the developing world.

“It is not enough to explain what happened by saying that Modi belongs to an extremist nationalist Hindu stream and that ‘jihadist’ terrorism increased his conviction that ties with Israel should be strengthened. The important point is that a country the size of Israel has something to offer the Indian army, beyond the role it [already] played in the past in developing the Soviet and Russian weapons that were owned by India; that it also has something to offer [in the spheres of] agricultural development and treatment of water problems, and [can maintain] a strategic military, security, and economic relationship with a country of the size and stature of India.

“The Arab was disturbed by the arrogance of Netanyahu’s speeches during Modi’s visit, but when he opened the map of the terrifying Middle East, he discovered that Israel had achieved a series of victories in recent years without firing a single bullet. Maps, countries, armies and economies around it have crumbled. Waves of extremism caused catastrophes in some parts of the Arab world compared to which the Palestinian Nakba is but one clause among many.

“This time the Arab felt not only envy, but felt the total defeat of the one who cannot join the [modern] era.”

 

[1]Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 10, 2017.

Egypt’s Sisi opens biggest military base in Middle East and Africa

July 23, 2017

Egypt’s Sisi opens biggest military base in Middle East and Africa, al-Arabiya,The Associated Press, July 22, 2017

“We can never forgive those who spend billions of dollars in support of terrorism to kill our people and then speak about brotherhood and neighborhood”.

Addressing terror sponsors, he said “killing innocent people will never go scot-free.”

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Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi launched Mohammed Naguib military base in a huge ceremony in El Hammam city west of Alexandria on Saturday.

Mohammed Naguib military base is the biggest in the Middle East and Africa, reported Egyptian media.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi underlined that the Arab participation in the inauguration ceremony of Mohammed Naguib military base is a cogent proof of Arab unity.

The president welcomed Arab guests who participated in the ceremony that also celebrated the graduates of colleges and military institutes.

Arab princes and ambassadors headed by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Emir of Mecca and Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti Minister of Defense and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar the Libyan National Army commander attended the ceremony of opening the base which is named after late president Mohamed Naguib.

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi launched Mohammed Naguib military base in a huge ceremony in El Hammam city west of Alexandria. (Screengrab)

Sisi stressed the importance of constructive cooperation to confront the challenges besetting the Arab nation.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi graduated new batches of the Armed Forces propped up by modern science and high-level training to be in charge of defending the nation.

He said the base was named after late Egyptian president Mohammed Naguib in honor of his patriotic efforts.

Sisi urged new graduates to be highly vigilant and ready for fighting in view of the watershed stage through which the region and whole world are passing.

Sisi said sacrificing for the nation’s security, stability and dignity is the duty of staunch sons of the nation.

He told the graduates that they are joining an ancient patriotic institution in charge of defending the nation, noting that Egyptians have always fully trusted their army.

The president paid tribute to Egypt’s martyrs of the Armed Forces and police who sacrificed their souls for their country.

He told the families of the martyrs that they sacrificed their sons to protect Egypt and confront terrorism and extremism, cautioning that terrorists are trying to affect the morale of the Egyptians.

As for states who interfere in the Egyptian affairs, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said these countries will never be able to harm Egypt or regional countries, adding that no country has the right to interfere in other countries’ affairs.

He highlighted that there are billions being spent to destroy countries, including Egypt.

Addressing Arab military graduates, he said we send a message to the world that Arabs join hands to build not to destroy, connive or foment sedition.

He said Egypt is now fighting in two battles; one for countering terrorism and the other for realizing socio-economic development.

Sisi said war tactics have changed and enemies resort to panicking people and spreading desperation in lieu of direct confrontations.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi expounded that terrorism is a multi-facet and complicated phenomenon, underlining the role of states and organizations that nurture and bankroll terrorism.

Mohammed Naguib military base is the biggest in the Middle East and Africa. (Screengrab)

Egypt will never forgive terror-funding countries

He added: “We can never forgive those who spend billions of dollars in support of terrorism to kill our people and then speak about brotherhood and neighborhood”.

Addressing terror sponsors, he said “killing innocent people will never go scot-free.”

He said, “Egypt will remain a peace-loving nation and will never kowtow to terrorist threats and those behind them.”

Sisi added that terrorism will never be a pretext to suspend economic reform and development as well as efforts to realize sustainable development.

“Terrorism, however, will be a catalyst for exerting more efforts at all levels” added the president of Egypt.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged people to bear the burdens of comprehensive economic development to reap its fruits which is a modern state and a dignified life.

For decades, the Egyptian economy failed to realize the optimal use of resources and economic crises piled up, but now the current generation has laid down strong foundations for a new modern Egypt whose people would enjoy prosperity and welfare.

The opening ceremony of Mohammed Naguib military base in Alexandria. (Screengrab)

He said the economic reform program is well examined, noting that Egypt is opening the door for all serious investors of Egypt, Arab or foreign states, creating jobs for youths and upping state revenues to realize a quantum leap in all services offered to people, especially health and education.

Sisi said he is sure that the Egyptians are aware of their high interests and they are adamant to proceed with economic reforms.

He voiced appreciation for the Egyptian people who understand the requirements of the economic reform program.

Temple Mt. opens in stages amid terror probe

July 15, 2017

Temple Mt. opens in stages amid terror probe, DEBKAfile, July 15, 2017

Pressure on Israel from the Arab world to reopen Temple Mount and its mosques for Muslim prayer without delay has been strongly countered by the Israeli police and security authorities. They need more time to complete their investigation of the scene of the terror attack, Friday, July 14, in which two Israeli officers on guard were shot dead and a third injured. The three Israeli Arabs who committed the murders were shot dead in the subsequent firefight outside the Dome of the Rock.

The Israeli government also decided that the shrine, which is sacred to three monotheistic faiths, needs better security installed before it is judged safe for worship and visits.

On Saturday, Washington came to the aid of the investigation. Strongly condemning the “heartbreaking act of terror on Temple Mount,” the White House press secretary added: “The attack forced the government of Israel to temporarily close the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif to conduct its investigation,” said the statement. “Israel has assured the world that it has no intention to alter the status of this holy site, a decision which the United States applauds and welcomes.”

Saturday night, the Netanyahu government Saturday nevertheless ordered Temple Mount opened Sunday “in stages” –  which gives the police and security authorities a little breathing space.

The police have been combing through the “scene of terror,” to reconstruct the crime and discover the secret arms caches hidden there. This undertaking is vast, complex and exceptionally sensitive.

The Temple Mount surface platform is 150,000 sq. meters in area with nine ancient open gates. It stands atop 13 historic periods of construction and destruction, each of which has left layer upon layer of mostly unexplored tunnels, pipes, caves, pits, shafts and debris. Even archeologists working there for decades and the clerical staff of the Waqf authority in charge of Muslim rites there can’t claim to have explored all the warrens hidden under the paved surface.

It is also suspected that there may be secret underground channels running under the Temple Mount wall and leading outside the compound.

The police are meanwhile keeping their cards very close to their vests. They have detained some Waqf officials on suspicion of a connection with the terrorists, without releasing figures, and discovered a quantity of firearms. But the cops, unfamiliar with this unique ancient site, don’t know what they will find. They are after information about the identities of the party which instructed them to hide the two rifles and pistols used by the terrorists and said when they should be handed over. In short, whether a terrorist network exists on Temple Mount.

Relatives of the three terrorists, who belonged to the same clan in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, have been detained in search of information about how they came to perform the first act of terror by Moslems on Temple Mount. Most of the town and other parts of the Arab population are hostile to the investigation.

Israeli Arab community leaders, including their 13 parliamentarians, have refused to condemn the attack, willing only to voice regret for all the deaths inflicted Friday, including the three assailants.

This was resented not only by Israelis at large, but most bitterly by the Druze community, which buried two of its sons, Hail Stawi, 30, from Maghar and Kamil Shanan, 22, from Hurfeish both in northern Israel. They were shot to death while guarding the holy site.

The Temple terror investigation has exposed troubling animosities in Israeli Arab society.