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Obama Administration Considers Intervening in Favor of PA Terrorists


Though a U.S. court awarded 11 American families over $200 million from the PA and the PLO for terror attacks that killed their loved ones, the U.S. government may intervene on behalf of the terrorists. So reports, in news that was confirmed by one of the lawyers for the families, Kent Yalowitz.

The problem from the standpoint of the U.S. is that the damages awarded are so high that they may cause the Palestinian Authority to go bankrupt. However, the government has apparently not asked the PA to save money by stopping its monthly stipends to the very terrorists, and their families, who committed the attacks.

"The U.S. government and the Department of Justice should be ashamed that they are even considering telling an American court that the PLO and the PA can afford to pay convicted terrorists, but cannot afford to pay the victims of those very same terrorists," Alan Bauer, a family member, told Fox News.

The families won a $218.5 million judgment this past February in Manhattan Federal Court, in which a jury found that the PLO and Palestinian Authority were responsible for a string of attacks from 2001 to 2004 that killed 33 and injured hundreds. A 1992 law requires damages in such cases to be tripled, thus hiking the amount awarded to over $550 million, and interest that could potentially be added could double that amount to $1.1 billion.

The PLO and PA are appealing the ruling, and the Obama administration's Department of Justice informed the court last month that it was considering filing a "statement of interest" in the case by Aug. 10. It did not elaborate, but observers believe the statement would favor the defendants and their terrorist interests.

"An administration which claims to be fighting terror is planning to weigh in favor of the terrorists," Yalowitz told "If our government actually came in favor of convicted terrorists, it would be a really sorry statement about the way our government treats terror."

Despite the appeal, U.S. District Judge George Daniels said he may require the PA/PLO to post bond until the appeal is settled. This, in order to show "some meaningful demonstration that the defendant is ready and willing to pay the judgment."

The plaintiffs included the estates of four U.S. citizens who were killed and several dozen Americans who were physically or psychologically injured in the attacks, as well as their families. They were represented by Attorney Kent Yalowitz, while others were represented by Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel Law Center.

The PLO/PA were found liable for six shootings and bombings in the Jerusalem area. In two cases, the attackers were Palestinian Authority police officers; in another, a suicide bomber was shown to have worked closely with the PA's military intelligence office in planning the attack; and in a 2004 suicide bus bombing, in which 11 were murdered and 50 wounded, PA police and security officials admitted to participating in the plot and making the bomb.

In each case, Fox News reported, the Palestinian Authority paid the families of suicide bombers and those later jailed for their participation in the attack.

US Can't Defend Israel Against a Nuclear Attack

By Ron Ben-Yishai (Commentary

A senior American official has vowed to protect Israel if it is attacked by Iran, but the only way to deter the ayatollahs from launching a surprise attack on Israel is by deploying tens of thousands of US soldiers on Israeli territory.

One thing is clear: The comments made by a senior American security official in a news briefing with Israeli reporters on Monday were aimed at allaying the fears of Israel's citizens and its supporters in the United States after the nuclear agreement with Iran.

It's not as clear what the senior American source meant when he said that Israel was an ally and that the US would defend it if were attacked, just like the US was committed to defend members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

It's unclear, for example, if when saying that Israel was an ally that the US would defend, the senior American security official was referring to the informal alliance between the US and Israel, an alliance which led to the deployment of American Patriot batteries on Israeli territory in 1991 to defend it against Saddam Hussein's missiles. These batteries did not intercept a single Iraqi Scud missile, as the Patriot deployed in Israel was of an old model, but it was the same intention.

That informal defense alliance between Israel and the US is also reflected in anti-missile and anti-aircraft defensive exercises which are occasionally conducted between Israel and the American Navy and interception systems on Israeli territory.

But it's hard to see this informal alliance between Israel and the US, which mostly includes deploying defensive and deterrence measures on Israeli territory, defending Israel against an Iranian nuclear attack.

If Iran decides to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon – or even not with a nuclear weapon – it is completely reasonable to assume that it will be a surprise attack. There is no chance that the US will be able to defend us against such an attack, especially a nuclear attack, unless the Americans deploy a significant amount of forces on Israeli territory – tens of thousands of soldiers with missile batteries, radars and other measures, who will be on constant alert and ready to intercept ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and planes arriving with a deadly cargo from Iran or from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Iran's allies.

Stationing tens of thousands of American soldiers on Israeli territory will be the most efficient way to deter Iran or anyone else from attacking Israel with a mass destruction weapon – nuclear, chemical or biological.

Such a deployment of American defense forces against missiles will violate the principle reiterated by all Israeli prime ministers and defense ministers, starting from David Ben-Gurion in the 1960s, that "Israel will defend itself on its own, and I don't want even one American soldier to shed blood for our sake."

The US is committed to defend its allies as part of the North Atlantic alliance, but in this case we are talking about a coalition in which most countries share a border with the former (and perhaps current) potential enemy – the Eastern bloc armies. The US committed and is still committed to defend them, and as part of this commitment it stationed – together with Britain and Canada – infantry, armored and air forces in Germany in order to ward off an attack from the east.

Israel doesn't share a border with Iran and is being threatened with a nuclear weapon, so the only thing that could deter the ayatollahs would be the physical presence of many American soldiers who may be hurt by the Iranian attack, as any attack on Israel would be considered a direct attack on the US as well.

Is this the kind of deterrence the Americans are alluding to? They have an exact same alliance with South Korea, which is aimed at balancing the horror and threat of annihilation which North Korea's military and nuclear power poses to its southern neighbor.

The US holds 40,000 soldiers in South Korea on a permanent basis in order to deter North Korea's leader from even trying to attack the South, and keeps a nuclear weapon both in South Korea and in Japan for the same purpose. It's quite reasonable to assume that the American security official was not referring to this type of defense – or was he?

The senior American official's intention may have been to imply that if Israel asks for a formal defense alliance with the US so that the US will extend a conventional military and nuclear umbrella over Israel in order to deter the Iranians, that request will be accepted, or will at least be seriously considered by the Obama administration.

I doubt that was the American intention. The vague statements that Israel is an ally were only meant to calm the Israelis down and they will not be given any practical meaning in the strategic relations between Israel and the US beyond that.

Israel can, however, welcome the unequivocal and detailed promises of the senior American security official on maintaining Israel's military and intelligence advantage, and the commitment not to sell F-35 jets or special weapons to Arab states in a way that will make it easier for them to attack Israel. The US has offered the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, military compensation, and the American official explicitly promised that this equipment would not divert the conventional military balance of power between Israel and its neighbors against Israel.

The senior American official's comments leave a lot of room for doubts and questions. Let's hope that after the American Congress completes the saga of approving the removal of the sanctions on Iran, the Israeli government will finally sit down with the Americans to discuss the fulfillment of the promises that the Obama administration is now throwing around so generously.

Breaking Taboo, Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

By Reuters

While the vast majority of East Jerusalem Palestinians refuse citizenship, more are requesting it, citing lack of peace deal, weak legal status, and pragmatism. "I declare I will be a loyal citizen of the state of Israel," reads the oath that must be sworn by all naturalized Israeli citizens. Increasingly, they are words being uttered by Palestinians.

In East Jerusalem, which Israel re-captured from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed, issues of Palestinian identity are layered with complexity. While Israel regards the east of the city as part of Israel, the estimated 300,000 Palestinians that live there do not. They are not Israeli citizens, instead holding Israeli-issued blue IDs that grant them permanent resident status.

While they can seek citizenship if they wish, the vast majority reject it. And yet over the past decade, an increasing number of East Jerusalem Palestinians have gone through the lengthy process of becoming Israeli citizens, researchers and lawyers say. In part it reflects a loss of hope that an independent Palestinian state will ever emerge. But it also reflects a hard-headed pragmatism - an acknowledgement that having Israeli citizenship will make it easier to get or change jobs, buy or move house, travel abroad and receive access to services.

Israeli officials are reluctant to confirm figures, but data obtained by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies indicates a jump over the past decade, rising from 114 applications in 2003 to between 800 and 1,000 a year now, around half of which are successful. On top of that, hundreds have made inquiries before the formal application process begins.

Interior Ministry figures obtained by Reuters show there were 1,434 applications in 2012-13, of which 189 were approved, 1,061 are still being processed and 169 were rejected. The remainder are in limbo. Palestinians who have applied do not like to talk about it. The loyalty oath is not an easy thing for them to sign up to and becoming a naturalized Israeli - joining the enemy - is taboo.

"It felt bad, really bad," said a 46-year-old Palestinian teacher who took the oath a year ago. Despite her reservations, she knew it was right for stability and career prospects. "We just want to live our lives," she said. "At the end of the day, politics gets you nowhere."

For many East Jerusalemites, part of the fear is that Israel could revoke their blue ID at any time since retaining it depends on maintaining a "center of life" in Jerusalem. Spend too much time abroad or working elsewhere and the ID could go. That is not the case when it comes to citizenship. "I wanted to strengthen myself in Jerusalem," said the teacher, explaining her reasoning. "It's my homeland. I was born here, I live here and I want to stay here."

Others echoed that sense of a transition that on the one hand feels like a renunciation, but on the other strengthens their ability to keep firm roots in Jerusalem. "It felt really wrong, I was a bit ashamed because it feels like you're giving up your identity," said a 26-year-old Palestinian ballet dancer, who began the application in June. "But if I get an Israeli passport I won't be so weak, especially living in East Jerusalem - it's so easy for us to get kicked out."

The ballet dancer told her immediate family who initially reacted with surprise but later accepted her choice. However, some other Palestinians fear their community's reaction to breaking the taboo, so keep their decision even from family and friends.

For many Palestinians, East Jerusalem feel likes a twilight zone. They pay Israeli municipal taxes and receive healthcare and insurance benefits, but are often neglected when it comes to basic city services - from trash collection to new playgrounds and resources in schools and clinics.

The situation is particularly bad in places like Shuafat, a refugee camp a few minutes away from the Old City. Shuafat lies beyond the concrete barrier built by Israel in the mid-2000s, after a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings. To reach the rest of Jerusalem, Shuafat residents must queue to get through a caged-iron walkway that crosses the barrier. About 100,000 Palestinians live beyond the barrier but are still Jerusalemites.

"The wall brought panic," said Adi Lustigman, a lawyer who represents Palestinians in citizenship applications. "People were afraid that after their homes were put behind it that their residency will be stripped and rights taken away."

Citizenship is seen as a block against that, said Lustigman, who confirmed that applications have shot up in recent years. The fraught decisions over identity come at a time when political and religious tensions are high in Jerusalem, and yet integration has to an extent been rising.

The most visible sign of that is the city's light-rail system which allows passengers - a mix of ultra-Orthodox Jews, secular Israelis, Palestinians and tourists - quick access to west Jerusalem shopping centers, markets and parks. More Palestinians, albeit in small numbers, have also been moving into predominantly Jewish neighborhoods and even settlements.

Khalil Tafakji, a map expert and former member of the Palestinian negotiating team, said political deadlock - the sense that years of striving for an independent Palestinian state were going nowhere - was driving numbers up. "If this continues, what will the Palestinians negotiate about? They want to negotiate on the land - they have already lost the land," he said. "They want to negotiate for the population and the population is being lost."

Israel, he said, was trying to strengthen its hold on Jerusalem demographically, a process helped by Palestinians taking up Israeli citizenship. Since 1967, around 24,000 Palestinians had made the switch, he said, equivalent to almost 10% of the East Jerusalem Palestinian population. The demographic impact is even wider when one considers that the children of those who become Israeli citizens are born Israeli.

Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom rejected the demographic argument. "This will not affect negotiations with the Palestinians, which encompass far greater and wider issues," said Shalom, whose portfolio includes Palestinian affairs.

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