West Bank terrorist cell discovered

Shin Bet and IDF thwart terrorist attacks and find Hamas linked cell in West Bank; One of the terrorist Israeli-Arab with complete access into Israel; terrorists reportedly developed explosives from fertilizers

IDF forces in a raid in the West Back (Gili Cohen)

IDF forces in a raid in the West Back (Gili Cohen)

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and IDF discovered and destroyed a terrorist cell in the West Bank as reported Tuesday. The cell, located in the city of Qalqilyah, was under investigation and linked to Hamas.

The Shin Bet released a statement Tuesday that they had arrested seven members of the squad. The men were interrogated and released following an investigation. According to the Shin Bet, the terrorists were manufacturing explosives and were planning terrorist attacks, as well as several individual shooting attacks. The terrorists were apparently developing explosives from agricultural fertilizer and were able to obtain guns from Israel.

One of the seven men is an Israeli-Arab citizen, Khaled Daoud, 21, which the Shin Bet stated had “full access to Israel in order to get the basic ingredients necessary.”Daoud was arrested in December but released as not enough evidence was found to incarcerated.

The Shin Bet released the statement on their investigation, “This investigation reveals yet again the motivation that exists in the field to carry out terror attacks against Israelis, alongside the danger inherent in the recruitment of Israeli citizens to terror organizations in order to carry out terror attacks.”

The release of the Shin Bet report comes during the period that the fourth phase of Palestinians prisoners were to be released from incarceration in Israel as part of peace talks with the Palestinians. The prisoners include several Israeli-Arabs, posing a security issue for Israel.

Israeli officials reportedly contemplated whether the prisoners should be deported from Israel if released. The prisoners were not released, the main reason for Palestinian fall out in talks according to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel begins placing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority

Israel begins placing sanctions on PA; Netanyahu reiterates no negotiations will be made with a Hamas backed government; Erekat accuses Israel of being responsible for peace talks fall out

Prime Minister Netanyahu

Prime Minister Netanyahu

Following last week’s announcement of a Fatah and Hamas unity government, Israel has begun to implement economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.  Reports released Monday and Tuesday claim that Israel has begun using tax money collected by the Palestinian Authority to pay of Palestinian debts, as agreed to by Netanyahu’s cabinet following the unity government announcement.

Palestinian debts include over $285 million to the Israeli Electric Company.

Reports Tuesday confirm that Israel has also frozen plans to build Palestinian homes in Zone C in the West Bank, a region entirely under Israeli control. Additional reports claim Israel will revoke VIP access for Palestinian officials into Israel as well.

Israel officially ended peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, which refused to cooperate in efforts by Israel and the United States to extend the talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been clear since the fall out of talks and unity government that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian unity government with Hamas.

He stated, “I am not going to accept a stalemate. I won’t accept another Palestinian state that is an Iranian offshoot of Iran, firing missiles in our cities. But I do seek a two states for two peoples solution. If I can’t have it right away with this Palestinian government, then we will seek other ways.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Tuesday that no negotiations or peace would be possible with Israel unless borders are defined. He stated,” Since the creation of Israel, nobody knows what the borders are. We are determined to know our borders and theirs; without that there will be no peace.” Speaking in a televised address, Abbas stated that a settlement freeze, maps and borders and the final release of Palestinian prisoners “would extend negotiations.”

Palestinian head negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel as the responsible party for failed talks, claiming that Israel’s politicians are a “extreme sector of Israeli society- mainly settlers.” He accused Netanyahu of consolidating “Israel’s apartheid regime.”

On what would have been the final day of peace talks Tuesday, Erekat stated that, “Exactly nine months ago President Abu Mazen [Abbas] announced a suspension of the program to join international organizations at the UN in return for the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel, whose sentences predate the Oslo Accords. Yet, 30 prisoners are stilled incarcerated in Israeli jails.”

He went on to accuse Israel of “killing Palestinians” and demolishing Palestinian homes and “sabotaging Palestinian and international efforts to achieve the two-state solution.”

Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Israelis commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day; Netanyahu speaks of nuclear Iran as threat to Jewish Nation; Peres calls on international awareness of anti-Semitism; March of the Living held in Poland

Youth groups from March of the Living 2014 (Ofer Aderet, AP)

Youth groups from March of the Living 2014 (Ofer Aderet, AP)

Israelis commemorated Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day Monday, in memory of the over 6 millions Jews killed during the Holocaust. The commemoration began Sunday night at a state ceremony held each year at Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

Two minutes of silence were given at 10 am through out the entire state of Israel, each year sirens heard through out Israel, its population pausing and standing in silence. Ceremonies as well as educational programs are held through out the day in remembrance of the Holocaust.

Prime Minister Netanyahu who spoke at the Yad Va’Shem ceremony focused his speech on the strength of the Jewish people, failure of its enemies, growing anti-Semitism and current threats against Israel, specifically nuclear Iran.

Netanyahu stated, “On this day, on behalf of the Jewish people, I say to all those who sought to destroy us, to all those who still seek to destroy us- you have failed and you will fail… today, we are again facing clear facts and a tangible threat. Iran is calling for our destruction. It is developing nuclear weapons. This is the reason it is building underground bunkers for the enrichment of uranium. This is the reason it is establishing a plutonium-producing heavy-water facility. This is the reason it continues to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads to threaten the entire world.”

He addressed Iran’s diplomatic attempts at “seeking an agreement that will lift the sanctions and leave it as a nuclear threshold” warning that “Today, just like then, there are those who dismiss Iran’s extreme rhetoric as one that serves domestic purposes. Today, just like then, there are those who view Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the result of the natural will of a proud nation- a will that should be accepted. And just like then, those who make such claims are deluding themselves. They are making an historic mistake.”

The Prime Minister finished his speech stating, “We have a sovereign Jewish state unlike our situation during the Holocaust, when we were like leaves in the wind, defenseless, now we have great power to defend ourselves, and it is ready for any mission. This power rests on the courage and ingenuity of the soldiers of the IDF and our security forces. It is this power that enabled us, against all odds, to build the State of Israel.”

Shimon Peres addressed the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide, and the importance of combatting it stating, “We must not ignore any occurrence of anti-Semitism, any desecration of a synagogue, any tombstone smashed in a cemetery in which our families are buried. We must not ignore the rise of extreme right-wing parties with neo-Nazi tendencies who are a danger to each of us and a threat to every nation.”

Over 12,000 participated in March of the Living in Poland Monday, a 3-kilometer walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau. The annual march is attended by both non-Jewish and Jewish communities from around the globe, majority Jewish youth communities from the Diaspora. Each year Israel sends several delegations to the march, from its police forces to an IDF delegation.

The March of the Living’s Chairman Shmuel Rosenman stated on the importance of the march that it “imparts the lessons of the Holocaust, celebrates the history of Jewish survival and instills a passion for social justice… Instead of learning just from books, the literal facts on the ground become their laboratory.”

Several world leaders attend the march, this year Hungarian President Janos Ader giving a speech to honor the victims of the Holocaust. This year marking 70 years since the Nazis take over of Hungary in 1944 which led to the extermination of over half a million Jews in a six months period of time.

Israel suspends peace talks amidst Fatah-Hamas unity government

Israel officially suspends peace talks; Abbas claims unity government will accept Israel and “adhere to principles of non-violence”

Fatah and Hamas representatives celebrate unity government (Reuters)

Fatah and Hamas representatives celebrate unity government (Reuters)

Israel’s security cabinet decided on Thursday to suspend peace talks, just five days before the scheduled end of the current talks. The security cabinet’s decision comes after the announcement of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact.

A statement released by the Prime Minister’s office following the announcement stated, “Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction. Abu Mazen formed an alliance with an organization whose covenant calls for Muslims to wage Jihad against Jews. Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated on the pact, “I think the pact with Hamas kills peace. If it moves forward it means that peace moves backward. As the State Department said yesterday, the ball is in the Palestinian court. I hope they dribble it in the right direction. Right now they are kicking it backward…. As long as I’m Prime Minister of Israel, I will never negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by terrorist organizations committed to our destruction.”

Abbas has reportedly claimed to UN representatives that Hamas, under a unity government with Fatah, will “adhere to the principles of non-violence and recognition of the State of Israel.” Abbas told Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process that the unity government will be committed to peaceful relations with Israel.

White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated on the unity government that, “The timing was troubling, and we were certainly disappointed in the announcement. This could seriously complicate our efforts — not just our efforts but the efforts of the parties to extend their negotiations…. It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.”

Fatah and Hamas to form unity government

Fatah and Hamas announce formation of unity government; Netanyahu calls on Abbas to make peace with Israel

Hamas and Fatah officials in Gaza (AFP)

Hamas and Fatah officials in Gaza (AFP)

Fatah and Hamas are to for a unity government in five weeks time. The agreement was made in a meeting on Tuesday between Hamas and Fatah delegations, attended by Hamas leaders Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Musa Abu Marzouk.

The meeting is scheduled to continue through out Wednesday, Prime Minister Haniyeh stating that the reason for a unity government is because “the possibility for further separation between the two movements is no longer possible given the current circumstances.”

In what was described as one official as a “positive atmosphere”, the delegation began to schedule elections, the official stating “There has also been progress on the holding of future elections and the composition of the PLO.”

The Palestinian Authority threatened to dismantle on Monday, a decision that would cancel the 1993 Oslo Accords as well as leave Israel responsible for the West Bank’s two million Palestinians.

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the ongoing hypocrisy of Abbas, stating on Monday that, “Yesterday the Palestinian Authority discussed dismantling, today it is mulling uniting with Hamas. Let them decide whether to dismantle or unite.”

Netanyahu criticized the Palestinian Authority an its president, Mahmoud Abbas, stating that “instead of moving into peace with Israel, they are moving into peace with Hamas.” He stated that Abbas “has to choose. Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace, so far he hasn’t done so.”

 

 

US investigating additional chemical attack in Syria

Additional chemical attack in Syria reported; US investigating what it believes to be attack with “toxic industrial chemicals”

UN inspectors at a chemical weapons stockpile in Syria (EPA)

UN inspectors at a chemical weapons stockpile in Syria (EPA)

Reports released from Syria Tuesday are claiming an additional chemical attack in Syria this month. Syrian rebels reported a chemical attack in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-controlled area, to have occurred on April 11th and 12th.  The report claims that helicopters dropped what was believed to be chlorine gas.

The report comes just after rebel forces in Syria posted footage of four men being treated for a reported poison gas attack, claiming Assad’s forces were responsible for the attack that occurred in a town close to Damascus. Rebel forces have claimed there have been four chemical attacks in the month of April.

The United States is conducting an investigation on the attack, Tuesday reporting that there was in fact a “toxic chemical” used in an attack in Syria this month. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated on the attack that the United States has evidence of “indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical.” She stated that a thorough investigation is currently underway. Psaki reported that chlorine was not a “priority one or two chemical” Syria declared to the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations have been working in coordination to rid Syria of its chemical weapons and stockpiles, with a reported 80% of declared chemical agents already removed and destroyed from Syria.

The 1,300 tons of chemical substances were to be removed from Syria by a deadline set for February 5th. The deadline was not made, Syria currently required to remove all chemical substances and precursors by the end of April.

Erekat: No intention to dismantle Palestinian Authority

Reports that Abbas threatened to dismantle PA; US warns of grave implications; Erekat reports no intentions for the dismantlement of the Palestinian Authority

 

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority (PA) Monday if peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were to fail. The deadline for peace talks is set for the end of April, the PLO reportedly to vote on a decision this Saturday.

The dismantlement of the Palestinian Authority would not only cancel the 1993 Oslo Accords but place Palestinians in the West Bank under control by the state of Israel. The move would also dismantle Palestinian security forces within the West Bank. The dismantlement of the PA would not only leave Israel in responsible for two and half million Palestinians in the West Bank, but also allow for international diplomatic and legal action against the State of Israel.

The United States has warned that “those kinds of extreme measures would have grave implications” as stated by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. She emphasized the United States’ investment in the peace process and the affects such a decision would have on US support for the Palestinians. She stated, “A great effort has been made in the last few years to build Palestinian institutions including with US financial aid” adding that this would “have implications on our relationship and our assistance.”

On Monday, a senior Hamas leader from Egypt arrived in Gaza to prepare for talks for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The meeting, scheduled for this week will address issues between the two groups and means of reconciliation. Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior Hamas leader stated that the meeting will “address the formation of a national consensus government, elections and restructuring the PLO in order to maintain Palestinian unity so we can dedicate our efforts to confronting Israeli occupation.”

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stated on Tuesday morning that the Palestinian Authority has no intention to dismantle the PA, stating, “No Palestinian has spoken of an initiative to dismantle the Palestinian Authority. But Israeli actions have canceled our legal, political, security, economic and operational rights of the Palestinian Authority.”