Column One: Why the concern for UNRWA?


…Why do the ambassadors wish to build more UNRWA clinics? This then brings us to the question of the seven former envoys’ motivation in writing the letter in the first place. The seven wrote that ending US financial support for UNRWA will have “national security ramifications for our closest allies, including Israel and Jordan.”

This is true enough. But at least in Israel’s case, those ramifications would be positive. The less money UNRWA has, the less damage it can do to the Palestinians and to Israel. With less money, UNRWA can teach fewer Palestinians that they should strive to become suicide bombers. With less money, they can build fewer booby trapped clinics and fewer attack tunnels under the floors of their examination rooms.

With less money, UNRWA becomes a less attractive option for millions of Arabs for whom accepting cradle-to-grave welfare payments from UNRWA has substituted work as an economic model. “Employed” on the UNRWA dole, they have been able to take low paying jobs as terrorists.

Obviously, as former UN ambassadors, the seven signatories know all of this. So obviously, they weren’t motivated to write due to some sort of deep seated desire to improve the welfare of the Palestinians. They were also clearly not motivated by genuine concern for Israel’s security, much less for the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Indeed, given what we know – and what they know – about UNRWA, it is impossible to attribute any positive justification to their actions. Rather, the only logical explanation for their decision to sign and send the letter to Pompeo is that they want to perpetuate US assistance to UNRWA because they like what it does. They think it is a good idea to doom Palestinians to perpetual misery and ensure that they will never, ever accept Israel’s right to exist in secure borders unmolested by war and terrorism and demonization.

That is, like UNRWA, the seven former senior diplomats were motivated by rank hostility to Israel. This is remarkable.

Power, Rice, Pickering, Perkins, Albright, Richardson and Negroponte represent the top tier of Washington’s bipartisan foreign policy clique. Together, they have played key roles in shaping US policy towards Israel for 30 years. And they like UNRWA.

Pompeo should thank them for their letter. He should thank them for reminding him to reconsider the administration’s position on the UN agency. And then he should follow Haley’s advice from January and end all US funding to UNRWA.

Furthermore, Pompeo should declassify the data on the actual number of Palestinian refugees and he should call for their cases to be dealt with by the UNHCR, without prejudice. And then he should announce that out of concern for the welfare of the Palestinians and in the interests of peace and regional security in the Middle East, the US believes the time has come to shut UNRWA down completely.

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Caroline Glick: Democrats Join Farrakhan and British Labour Party in Antisemitic Sewer

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Democratic Party is following Britain’s Labour party down the antisemitic rabbit hole.

Today, with the British Labour Party firmly under the thumb of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Britain is one election away from being led by a man who has spent decades in the company of some of the most prolific and noxious antisemites in the world.

Allegations of anti-Jewish bigotry have hounded Corbyn for decades, and with good reason. It isn’t simply that he has associated with notorious antisemites, and referred to Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists as “my friends.”

It is that Corbyn has whitewashed antisemites in Labour. He has made Labour a warm and welcoming home for them. And at the same time, under his leadership, prominent Jewish pro-Jewish and pro-Israel voices have been marginalized while antisemitic Jews have been organized and empowered as a political weapon to sanitize the antisemitism-Semitism that permeates the party.

Last week, British researcher David Collier published two reports (here and here), documenting in granular detail the postings at a virulently antisemitic secret Facebook page called “Palestine Live.”

Corbyn was a member of the group until shortly after he was elected leader of the Labour Party in 2015. While anyone can be placed on any Facebook page whether he wants to be there or not, and Corbyn claims that he was “joined” to the group without his knowledge, Corbyn was not a passive member. The leader of Labour was active on the wildly bigoted group.

The muck on the “Palestine Live” page runs the anti-Semitic spectrum from medieval to pogromist, from Nazi to Communist to anti-Zionist.

The group’s 3,200 members routinely post propaganda justifying the Holocaust, denying the Holocaust, and blaming the Jews for the Holocaust. They accused Jews of killing Palestinians to steal their organs and of controlling the global economy, the governments of every country on earth, and the media. They assign Jews responsibility for every major terrorist attack in the world.

As for Israel, group members accuse Israel of every possible crime against humanity. The Palestinians of Gaza are referred to as “Holocaust survivors,” while Israelis are “terrorists” and “Nazis.”

As Collier put it, “Palestine Live is a sewer, full of anti-Semitic ideologies.”

Jacqueline Walker, a former Momentum steering group member, is also a member of the Facebook group. Walker has been suspended from the Labour party twice over allegations of antisemitism.

Members of the secret group were well aware of its bigoted nature. Jacqueline Walker, the a former member of Labour’s pro-Corbyn Momentum faction’s steering committee, who was twice suspended from the party over allegations of anti-Jewish bigotry asked Elleanne Green, Palestine Live’s founder and one of its administrators, “How safe is this group?”

Green responded, “Very…no one is allowed in who is not trusted…I am very careful…and it is a Secret Group…so it really is as safe as you will be able to find anywhere.”

As to Corbyn, whereas other prominent British leftists were inactive members, and could reasonably claim they were unaware that they had been added to the hate group, Collier documented multiple instances where Corbyn actively engaged with it.

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The Gas Deal with Egypt: Israel Deepens its Anchor in the Eastern Mediterranean

Presumably the government of Israel played an important role in securing the $15 billion natural gas deal signed recently between the owners of Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan fields and the Egyptian Dolphinus Holding. For his part, Egypt’s President el-Sisi stated that with this deal Egypt has gained a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, positioned itself as a regional energy center, and “scored a big goal.” The deal, along with the construction of a natural gas pipeline to Jordan, has great strategic value for Israel and the region. These deals might possibly be joined by a future deal with the PA, enabling the supply of gas and perhaps also the production of gas off the coast of Gaza. These agreements stabilize Israel's relations with its neighbors by creating a web of mutual interests and opening up the possibility of regional cooperation beyond the subject of natural gas, such as the export and import of electricity and desalinated water.

Photo: Egyptian Presidency, AFP

On February 19, 2018, the gas partnerships in Israel announced a $15 billion contract to export 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Egypt over ten years. The contract, between the owners of the Tamar and Leviathan fields and the Egyptian Dolphinus Holding, is based on a memorandum of understanding from October 2014. Presumably the government of Israel played an important role in securing this deal, by promoting it with the Egyptian government and possibly also by covering the guarantees required from Dolphinus for its approval.

The green light in Cairo for signing the deal after long Egyptian delays reflects several considerations. First, Egypt seeks to settle the $1.76 billion in compensation that the Egyptian gas companies were required to pay the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) as part of an international arbitration verdict in 2015. Second, the decision to allocate most of the gas in the Zohr field to Egyptian domestic consumption paves the way for the flow of gas from Israel, Cyprus, and other countries to the liquefaction facilities in Damietta and Idku for the purpose of export to Europe, a step that maximizes the economic and political value of the fact that Egypt is the only country in the region with the infrastructures for gas liquefaction. The third consideration is the promise of estimated revenues of some $22 billion over ten years, and strengthened economic ties between Egypt and Europe.

In spite of the benefits, the gas deal with Israel aroused public debate in Egypt. Islamist elements, primarily Egyptian exiles, criticized “the import of Arab-Islamic gas stolen from occupied countries, and infusion of billions in the Zionist coffers.” Opposition elements within Egypt indicated their concern over creating Egyptian dependency on Israel, but their criticisms focused on questions as to the economic benefit of the transaction for the Egyptian public and on the lack of transparency.

In response, government spokesmen pointed to the Turkish-Qatari considerations behind some of the criticisms. They minimized the role of the Egyptian government as broker of the deal, played down its political significance, and stressed its economic benefits. President el-Sisi, who is currently campaigning for a second term, expressed satisfaction that the region's gas will be exported via Egypt and not other countries, hinting at Turkey. He stated that with this deal Egypt has gained a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, positioned itself as a regional energy center, and in his words, “scored a big goal.”

The “goal” celebrated by el-Sisi appears to have positioned Israel and Egypt as players on the same “team” working to promote shared objectives. Articles in the Egyptian establishment press stressed the gains to both countries from the deal, and some pointed to the link between security coordination in Sinai and broader cooperation in energy. This Egyptian view gives additional depth to the peace relations, and highlights the mutual long term interest in fostering them. The gas deal also creates a platform for other bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the region that includes Egypt and Israel. However, it is still too early to call the deal a breakthrough in the normalization of relations. As there have been energy deals between Israel and Egypt since the 1980s, the current transaction does not set a precedent. Moreover, at this stage it is hard to assess to what degree the fruits of the deal will trickle down to the Egyptian public and reinforce their enthusiasm for peace.

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Caroline Glick: Trump’s Urgent Lebanon Problem

Anwar Amro / AFP / Getty

Since visiting Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon late last month, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been sounding the alarm about the growing danger of a devastating war between Israel and Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah

Ahead of his meeting Monday with President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Iran and its rapidly expanding regional power, as well as its nuclear program, would be the major focus of their discussions.

Speaking Sunday on Fox News, Graham warned that the U.S. has no policy to push back Iran’s gains in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Specifically regarding Lebanon, Graham warned, “Southern Lebanon is a nightmare. It makes Gaza look stable. The IDF, the Israel Defense Force, says there are over a hundred thousand rockets and missiles in the hands of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.”

Graham continued, “Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon years ago, the United Nations was supposed to police the area. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] has sat on the sidelines and watched Hezbollah dominate southern Lebanon with missile technology that now threatens every part of Israel. So it’s a matter of time until Israel strikes southern Lebanon.”

Last month, officers in UNIFIL — the 10,300-strong multinational force charged with preventing Hezbollah from deploying in southern Lebanon — told a French newspaper that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) blocks UNIFIL from fulfilling its mission. The officers explained that in undermining UNIFIL’s operations, the LAF is acting as Hezbollah’s agent.

As the Jerusalem Post reported, speaking to the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, a warrant officer from UNIFIL’s French contingent said, “In the evening we never leave the barracks because the Lebanese forces are not friendly.”

“We are caught in the aggressor’s grip. Doing the bare minimum has become a political choice,” he added.

A liaison officer with UNIFIL who recently completed his tour of duty with the force told the French newspaper cited by the Post, “When we would detect military activities in our area, especially near the Blue Line [border with Israel], the Lebanese Army would prevent us from posting observers. It is as if those decisions did not come from them. Everyone knows that Hezbollah is using the area for the next war.”

A Finnish officer serving with UNIFIL said that some of the UNIFIL forces spy for Hezbollah.

“I can assure you that Indonesian peacekeepers are constantly reporting Israeli movements to various Lebanese actors,” he said.

He also said that some of UNIFIL’s 585 local employees “do not hide their Hezbollah membership.”

The LAF routinely pays homage to, and publicizes its ties with, Hezbollah. For instance, last July, 150 LAF officer cadets visited the Hezbollah museum in the southern Lebanese town of Mleeta. The museum features bombed-out IDF tanks and helmets, and replicas of Hezbollah’s underground bunkers and command posts.

The LAF cadets’ visit to the Hezbollah museum occurred a week after LAF forces participated in a Hezbollah-commanded military operation against a militant group in Syria formerly known as the Nusra Front. As Tony Badran from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote at the time, “It was Hezbollah that laid out the battle plans … including what role the LAF would play in it. And it was Hezbollah’s chief, Hassan Nasrallah who announced the impending start of the joint operation with the LAF during a televised appearance.”

Last April, the LAF accompanied armed Hezbollah forces along the border with Israel.

And last week, LAF Commander General Joseph Aoun threatened to go to war against Israel. Aoun said the LAF “maintains its readiness on the southern border to confront any Israeli military aggression or any attempt to encroach on parts of the territorial and maritime borders.”…

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