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PA Toughens Language in Unilateral UN Resolution


The Palestinian Authority's envoys presented on Monday a more toughly-worded United Nations draft resolution on statehood that could come up for a vote at the Security Council this week, AFP reported.

Arab ambassadors met at UN headquarters for about two hours to endorse the text that contains new provisions on declaring eastern Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state, settling the issue of prisoner releases and halting Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. But a final decision on the timing for a vote on the draft resolution at the Security Council rests with PA and Jordanian leaders.

"Both our leaderships will be discussing, to find the best way and the best timing to vote on the Security Council resolution," Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar was quoted as having told reporters. "Realistically, it could happen tomorrow," added PA envoy Riyad Mansour.

The draft resolution was formally presented to the council on December 17, but the United States quickly rejected the text over Palestinian insistence that deadlines be set. The PA said it was open to negotiations on the text and Jordan began talks on a measure that could garner a consensus among the 15 council members. But the latest push showed that prospects for a resolution that would satisfy both the PA and the United States were bleak.

It remains unclear if the PA would seek a quick vote or hold off until January 1 when five new members with a pro-Palestinian stance join the Security Council. Diplomats said it was unlikely that the resolution would garner nine votes under the current makeup of the council -- a scenario that would allow the United States to avoid resorting to its veto power. Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela begin their two-year stint at the council on January 1, replacing Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Rwanda and South Korea.

Russia has said it will support the resolution, and while Secretary of State John Kerry has not publicly stated that Washington would use its veto against the resolution, his spokeswoman recently said the United States will not support the resolution.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday called on the international community to oppose the PA's moves at the UN. "We expect the international community, at least the responsible members of that community to oppose vigorously this UN diktat, this UN Security Council resolution because what we need always is direct negotiations and not imposed conditions," Netanyahu said during a meeting with Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

"But I want to guarantee you, to you and to the people of Israel: If the international community does not reject the Palestinian Authority's proposal, we will. Israel will oppose conditions that endanger our future," he added.

The United States said on Monday it did not support a draft statehood resolution that the Palestinians plan to introduce at the United Nations, saying it would not advance the goal of peace or address Israel's security needs.

"We don't think this resolution is constructive," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told a regular news briefing. "We think it sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion. "Further, we think that the resolution fails to account for Israel's legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs, of course, integral to a sustainable settlement."

PA Minister: Killing Babies is Part of 'Resistance' Against Israel


A Palestinian Authority "minister" has justified the murder of a one year-old Israeli baby as legitimate "resistance" against Israel, Palestinian Media Watch reported Monday. Israel fined Ali Sa'ada, a terrorist prisoner who murdered the child and his father, with 3.5 million shekel ($896,355) earlier this month. Sa'ada was convicted last year of murdering 25 year-old Asher Palmer and his son Yonatan in a rock attack in September 2011.

According to PMW, Prisoners' Affairs Authority Director and PA Parliament Member Issa Karake protested the move, saying it is "delegitimizing the [Palestinian] national resistance" against Israel. "[Israeli] courts have been... passing sentences on prisoners that force them to pay large sums in financial compensation to Israelis who have been exposed to resistance by Palestinians," Karake told the WAFA news agency two weeks ago.

Karake's remarks follow the praise of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for the murder of three-month-old baby Chaya Zisel Braun in a "car rampage" attack by an Islamic Jihad terrorist in October. Hamas openly praised the baby's murder in the wake of that attack, whereas PA negotiator Saeb Erekat was slightly more subtle, claiming the PA "regrets" all loss of life while equating the murder with the "violence and instability" caused by the "occupation of Palestine."

PA Co-opts Jesus as the 'Palestinian Messiah and Martyr'


In what has become a "Christmas tradition" for the Palestinian Authority, Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other senior figures of the group once again made a historical claim that Jesus was "Palestinian." Abbas last Monday told the official PA paper WAFA "we celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace," as reported by Palestinian Media Watch.

The message follows on Abbas' claim last year that Jesus was "Palestinian," which the Israeli Foreign Ministry rebuffed in a verbal riposte referencing Christian tradition, saying "we forgive him because he knows not what he does."

It goes without saying that Abbas' claim completely flies in the face of historical fact. PMW notes that Christianity defines Jesus as a Jewish resident of Judea, and only hundreds of years after Jesus' death did the occupying Roman Empire change Judea's name to "Palestina," a name brought back thousands of years later by the British mandate which termed Israel "Palestine" after World War I.

Abbas was not the only one getting in on the holiday spirit; Abbas' adviser on religious and Islamic affairs and PA Supreme Shariah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who has announced Israel will disappear and that Abbas is inciting a religious war, also joined the action.

"Christmas is also a Palestinian holiday, because Jesus, peace be upon him, was Palestinian. He was born in Palestine; lived and was sent (as prophet) to Palestine. Therefore, Christmas has a special Palestinian flavor," said Al-Habbash last Sunday, reports PMW.

District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Laila Ghannam said on official PA TV earlier this month "we are standing here, Muslims and Christians, in Yasir Arafat Square, (named after) the symbol of our cause, to celebrate Christmas. So too we will stand united to celebrate victory, far off as it may be. Merry Christmas, let's celebrate and be merry; Jesus the Messiah is Palestinian, and we are Palestinians and will continue to hold our heads high," said Ghannam.

Likewise, Adnan Al-Damiri, official spokesman for the PA Security Forces, on Facebook on December 25 celebrated "the anniversary of love and peace, the birthday of Jesus the Palestinian."

PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, a member of the Abbas' Fatah's Central Committee, referenced "the first Martyr, the first Palestinian, Jesus." Tawfiq Tirawi, also on Fatah's Central Committee, on Facebook wished the "united Palestinian people a new Christmas that will herald liberty, as did Jesus, the first Palestinian."

The PA exploitation of Christianity as propaganda for its campaign against Israel reached new heights during the visit of Pope Francis in May, when the organization showed the pope an art exhibit presenting Jesus as a "suffering Palestinian martyr."

Hamas Bars Gaza Children from Making Conciliatory Trip to Israel

By Israel Hayom

Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip on Sunday prevented a group of Palestinian children, some of whom lost parents in Operation Protective Edge, from making a postwar conciliatory trip to Israel that was meant to foster peace, organizers of the trip said. Gaza's Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, citing the children's "suspicious" itinerary, confirmed they were barred from crossing the border into Israel.

Israeli peace activists said they had secured permission from the Israel Defense Forces to admit the 37 children and five accompanying adults for a week-long tour of Israel and the West Bank. Yoel Marshak, an Israeli organizer of the trip, said the group included children of Hamas fighters killed in the fighting this past summer. "These children will one day be the leaders of Gaza and they would have remembered this trip and known that we can live in peace, side by side," he said.

Marshak said he received written approval for the trip three weeks ago from Hamas and that the cancellation came as a surprise. He said he and other organizers were working to reorganize the trip. During their visit, Marshak said, the children were to have toured Arab towns in Israel as well as southern areas that were under threat of Gaza rockets. They were also scheduled to attend a performance by a Jewish-Arab band and visit a mixed-race school, the Tel Aviv beach and a nearby safari. The schedule also included a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Said Abu Luli, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy whose father was killed in an electrical accident in 2009, said he was disappointed he could not make the trip. "I was very happy that I will go and was saddened when we were prevented," he said in a telephone interview. "I was hoping to visit the places in the West Bank and our lands in Palestine." |

Russian Immigrants in Israel Targeted by Extortion Fraud

By Israel Hayom

The Anti-Fraud Unit of the Tel Aviv District Police has begun investigating a scam that has cheated dozens of immigrants from the former Soviet Union out of tens of thousands of shekels.

The investigation began after a number of Russian-speaking immigrants recently filed complaints reporting the same scheme: They would receive a telephone call from an unknown person who identified himself as a lawyer and claimed that he was calling from Russia, where the immigrants still have family. The caller would have the name of a relative of the victims, and he would say that the relative had caused an accident that injured another person.

The caller would then inform the Israeli family that the supposed accident victim was in urgent need of medical treatment, and if they did not want the police involved, they needed to send sums ranging from NIS 20,000 ($5,090) to NIS 30,000 ($7,640). To convince the Israeli family that he was telling the truth, the caller would also tell them that their relative had sustained injuries to the face and it was hard for him to speak. Later in the call, he would read out a few sentences supposedly written by the family member.

When the people in Israel asked the caller how they should send him the money, he would send a representative with a document for them to sign, purporting to be an agreement that absolved them from any future lawsuit. After the money was received, the family in Israel would eventually learn that no relative of theirs had been injured or involved in any accident, and it was all a fraud.

When it became clear that the same scammer had operated dozens of times, Tel Aviv Police Chief Maj. Gen. Bentzi Sau ordered his officers to find the people who had showed up to collect the money. On Sunday morning, investigators met one couple who had evaded the scam. When the couple received the phone call, they asked that the relative in question take the line and say a few words in Hebrew. When the caller realized they were on to him, he hung up.


Al-Qaida Urges 'Lone Wolf' Attacks Against Western Airlines

By Israel Hayom

In the latest issue of its English-language online magazine, Inspire, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula called for individual jihadists to carry out "lone wolf" attacks on Western commercial passenger flights. The magazine named a number of U.S. airline companies -- American Airlines, Delta, United and Continental -- as potential targets. It also cited British Airways, EasyJet, Air France and KLM as alternative targets.

"The first pri­or­ity and the main focus should be on Amer­ica, then the United King­dom, then France. ... This goes on with the NATO coun­tries as per the known order," the magazine said.

The magazine advised would-be terrorists on the best locations and altitudes for detonating explosive devices, saying planes should be blown up over land, as this would also cause casualties and damage down below. Methods of evading airport security were also suggested. Inspire also named prominent American economic figures, such as former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, as potential targets for assassination.

Picture Grim for Young Israeli Couples Wishing to Buy Homes


More than a decade ago, young couples living in southern Israel were able to buy a home – many with financial aid from the state provided to young families willing to set roots in the Negev. Today, young couples cannot afford to become homeowners amid rising housing prices and stagnant wages, and the government is no longer providing assistance.

One couple who bought an apartment in southern Israel when the government still provided aid, examined the market today and said, "If we wanted to buy a home today, there is no way we would've succeeded. No way in the world."

The Negev Laws, passed in 2000, provided tax reliefs to residents of Be'er Sheva and its surroundings, an additional grant to buy an apartment for young couples and more. Today, these laws are no more than a distant memory, and tax benefits have been reduced drastically – existing only in remote communities such as Mitzpe Ramon and Dimona.

"If young couples received help now like they did then, the situation in Israel would be completely different," says Oren Joreno, a resident of Be'er Sheva. Joreno and his wife Nurit, both 41 years old, are parents to two children aged 12 and 14, and bought a house 14 years ago which was subsidized by the Negev Law and the Sharansky Law, which also gave grants to those who met the criteria for the purchase of a new apartment.

"We were a young 24-year-old couple and now we are about to finish paying our mortgage. The conditions for eligibility were determined by how many siblings you had, your military service, and more," says Nurit. "We were helped a lot with housing and rent. The state used to help."

Nurit has been a state employee for 16 years now and her husband works as an electrician at the Electra company. Together, they earn NIS 13,000 a month after taxes and they know that today they would have no chance of buying another home. "Today, it's a disgrace," says Oren. "Every day when we come home we thank God that this is our kingdom. But for young couples it's really hard, the rent is continuously rising, and today people are paying very expensive mortgages. Whoever has a home today is rich.

"I look at my husband's nieces and nephews, the next generation, and they have a hard time surviving and borrow money from us even though both of them work," says Nurit. "In our time there really was help. We saw it. The monthly payments were lower than what they are today: We pay back NIS 1,400 but today people return NIS 3,000-4,000. These are astronomical figures."

Nurit is calling for a change and her husband agrees. "We have a prime minister that is an economist, but the doors are blocked and they must be opened. He can open the option of grants for young couples and let them live, but we are simply denied this. Everybody could be a homeowner," says Oren.

Hagit, 36, and Ali Elimelech, 41, live in Be'er Sheva in a home they purchased 11 years ago in the prestigious Ramot neighborhood. They also received a subsidy within the Negev Law framework. "They gave out NIS 20,000 in equity back then, there wasn't a need for too much," explained Hagit. "Those who didn't do this a decade or more ago, there is no chance they would be able to buy a home today without help from their parents. The government is doing nothing to help. And it's not just with housing - it's also with the cost of living. Everything is going up except for wages – which are stagnant. We feel like we are being backed into the corner."

"If the state wanted to develop housing beyond the limits of central Israel, it could do it," says Ilana, 35, who lives in the Eshkol Regional Council with her husband Ohad, 39, and her two children aged 8 and 2 and a half. In 1999, Ohad bought a share of land with financial assistance provided from the Negev Law. They received assistance totaling 10% of the property value. "The choice to live in this area enabled us to acquire the property. Today, even those who buy (homes) in the south are only those that have financial ability," says Ilana.

"The only time when the residents of the Negev felt as though they were an inseparable part of the State of Israel was the period when we passed the Negev Law," says former MK Weizman Shiry, who was one of the law's main proponents. "There were tax benefits and an additional grant for housing purchases in Be'er Sheva and the surrounding area. It was a great period for contractors and especially for local residents," says Shiry.

According to Shiry, "The person who cancelled the Negev Laws and cancelled all the grants associated to housing was finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During my time, we cancelled all the benefits for Judea and Samaria and transferred the funding to the Negev. But now we have a housing minister who only cares about settlers. We closed all the roads during the struggle over the Negev Laws but nothing helped. They changed their priorities and cancelled the benefits."

Last Jew in Pakistan Fights for Jewish Cemetery


Engineer Fishel (Faisal) Benkhald, a Pakistani who according to his own estimation is the last Jew in the Muslim country, is struggling to preserve the Jewish cemetery in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city with a population of 20 million.

Benkhald, whose father was Muslim and whose mother was an Iranian Jew, told the British The Guardian last Friday that he grew up in Karachi and identifies as a Jew, even though his Pakistani ID lists him as Muslim. "I want the government to recognize the Jews as a minority in Pakistan," said Benkhald, who is the only self-declared Jew in Muslim Pakistan, where anti-Semitism is rampant.

While Benkhald has sent letters and launched a Twitter campaign, his requests have gone ignored by the authorities, and the cemetery continues to remain untended for. Currently Chand Arif, the self-styled caretaker of the graveyard who has been squatting there with his extended family and several goats for two generations, remains in de facto control of the Jewish cemetery. "There are people who want to come over and make this a Muslim graveyard," Arif said. "They tell us we will give you money to give this area to us."

The Jewish cemetery is being encompassed by the Mewa Shah burial district which is fueling the requests to take over the Jewish cemetery and turn it into a Muslim cemetery.

Karachi architect Arif Hasan, who is a member of the provincial government's cultural heritage committee, told the British paper he has proposed to turn the Jewish graveyard into a protected site. "Naturally there is an anti-Israel feeling which is very strong," said Hasan. "But this is our heritage, irrespective of whether we are Jewish, Muslim or Christian, and we have to protect it."

Most of the 300 graves that remain in the cemetery date from the mid-19th century CE. In one corner a grand sarcophagus housed in a square sandstone building holds the remains of Solomon David, founder of the Magen Shalom synagogue in Karachi who died in 1902. The synagogue was replaced with an apartment building in the 1980s, with the request of one of the last remaining Jews in the city to provide a replacement synagogue ignored by the developers.

Nearly all of Pakistan's Jewish community was forced to flee the Muslim nation amid rising attacks following the foundation of the modern State of Israel. Aside from Benkhald, a small handful of Jews are thought to still remain in Karachi, although they apparently have all intermarried or hidden their identities.

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