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Ahead of Netanyahu-Trump Talks, Abbas Woos Iran

By DEBKAfile

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has pivoted towards Iran in a move to pre-empt a possibly impending US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the friendly talks scheduled to take place in Washington Wednesday between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. This is revealed by DEBKAfile's exclusive intelligence sources.

Our sources report that the Abbas has opened a direct channel of communications between Ramallah and Tehran as a permanent fixture. Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub is in charge of the Palestinian end of the relationship and will lead the first official Palestinian delegation to Tehran.

For some months now, he has served as Abbas' senior spokesman and the Palestinian Authority's "foreign minister." In the third week of January, Rajoub declared: "In our opinion moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war on the Muslims."

Two weeks ago, Palestinian and Iranian delegations met secretly for the first time in a European country. Two more encounters followed and dealt with such urgent matters as the fate of Palestinians stranded on Syria's battlefronts and in former refugee camps. They also discussed the Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon and their problematic relations with Iran's Shiite surrogate, Hizbullah.

At their third meeting, the Iranian delegates asked where the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah stood vis-à-vis a political resolution of the Syrian conflict. They decided to talk about this some more at the next Iranian-Palestinian meeting on a date this month and a location yet to be arranged.

As part of his pivot towards Tehran, Abbas made sure to send the Palestinian Authority's warm congratulations to Iran's rulers on the anniversary of their Islamic revolution: He asked God "to bring more stability and prosperity to Iran and its brotherly people as they celebrate this occasion, and more progress and advancement the brotherly relations between our peoples."

Abu Mazen's pro-Iranian shift is intended as a signal to five parties, DEBKAfile's intelligence sources report: Trump, the presidents of Russia and Egypt, the rulers of the Gulf Emirates and King Abdullah of Jordan.

He is warning Trump that the US embassy's relocation to Jerusalem and the strengthening of US-Israeli ties would be countered by a parallel enhancement of Palestinian relations with Tehran. The message to Vladmir Putin is that, even though he is fully engaged in Syria, he can't afford to abandon the Palestinians; Abdel-Fatteh El- Sisi, the Gulf rulers and Jordan's monarch are put on notice that if they have a problem with rising Iranian influence in Baghdad, they had better be prepared to find Tehran's imprint in Ramallah too.

Hamas in Gaza Strip Selects Radical New Political Leader

By Israel Hayom


Hamas has elected a new political leader in the Gaza Strip to replace Ismail Haniyeh, Palestinian media reported Monday. Haniyeh is slated to replace Khaled Mashaal as the organization's political bureau chief. The Qatar-based Mashaal announced last year he would be stepping down as the terrorist group's leader.

According to reports, Haniyeh's successor, Yahya Sinwar, was elected in a secret ballot. Sinwar, 52, is a known Hamas hard-liner and a senior member of Hamas' military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. He was released from an Israeli prison as part of the 2011 Schalit prisoner exchange, after having spent 22 years behind bars over the murder of Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. He was also involved in the planning of the 1994 abduction of IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman.

Sinwar was appointed to Hamas' political wing four years ago and succeeded in creating a new position -- liaison between the terrorist group's political and military wings -- gaining him considerable influence within the organization. In fact, Sinwar is widely considered the strongest man in Gaza today. Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported that candidates backed by the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades dominated the elections and won the majority of the votes.

Netanyahu to Demand Pollard Be Allowed to Come to Israel

By Reuters

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is making his way to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump. According to a Channel 2 report, Netanyahu will ask Trump to be more lenient with Jonathan Pollard's parole conditions. Pollard, who is living in New York after serving a heavy 30-year sentence in an American jail, was forbidden to immigrate to Israel.

In July 2015 the American Parole Board agreed that Pollard would be released after serving 30 years in an American jail. In November 2015 Pollard was released with restrictive conditions for the first five years after his release, including a prohibition on leaving a certain part of New York City, an electronic chip monitoring his whereabouts at all times, nighttime house arrest, continuous monitoring of his computer at work and at home, and a prohibition on contacting the media. The prohibition on using internet originally issued to Pollard was cancelled after a petition by his lawyers.

'Le Pen Victory Would Send Half of French Jews to Israel'

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Marine Le Pen's declaration that if she is elected French president, French Jews will not hold dual Israeli and French citizenship was the subject of an Arutz Sheva talk with businessman and former Knesset member Shmuel Flatto Sharon, who reports that conversations with Jews in France reveal that should Le Pen be elected to the high office, they will leave France.

Sharon notes that the Le Pen family has been immersed in French politics for 50 years, and that Marine's father is nothing but a fascist who does not only not like Jews, but "hates Jews." In contrast to her father, says Sharon, the daughter maintains a policy of smiles and announces that she has nothing against Jews, but in reality conducts a policy that emanates from her father's worldview.

"This family is very dangerous. In another three months there will be an election, and if Ms. Le Pen takes control, it would be a catastrophe for Europe; France will leave Europe immediately. Only Israel would benefit because the Jews will emigrate. There are 600,000 Jews in France, and many of them are well-situated. If she wins I can guarantee that within a year, 300,000 of them will be here.

"This is anti-Semitism. She said that Jews can use a small kippah ... will she then tell us which kippah to wear? This is fascistic. I'm not afraid to say the words. They are our enemies just like the Arab terrorists. They are in the same category."

Sharon concedes that Le Pen speaks against all religions, but says we should only be concerned with her attitude towards Jews. He holds that Jews must beware of anti-Semitism which is not a mere lack of love for Jews, but active hatred for Jews, a perception that ultimately leads to acts of murder against Jews and Israelis.

Sharon adds his opinion regarding proper treatment of Arab terrorists, saying that "the problem is that we don't act. There's something about the Jews that we don't act. We need to do to them what they are doing to us. We operate according to the laws of war, but they don't act according to laws; this way, we will lose".

On ingrained French anti-Semitism he says, "I've lived in France for 40 years. I was a friend of all the politicians, all the capitalists, and all the banks, but not once did a gentile family who loves me come to eat at my house. For them we are not people. They do business and make money but have no contact with us. We are animals in their eyes.

"I decided to talk only about this in the media: Enough. We need to open our eyes and say enough with the killing of Jews, we should kill them. I don't know why nobody says it. Are our lives worth less than their lives? It begins with the ideology of Le Pen. They talk to us, but they and we are not in the same category. I am for Netanyahu and love him, but for a few years we need a leader who says whoever comes against Jews will die".

Sharon repeatedly states that "Le Pen would be a catastrophe, but good for Israel because the majority of Jews will come here. It would be difficult because it's not simple for an established family with a livelihood to uproot and move to Israel, but they have no choice."

According to Sharon, whoever he is in contact with in the Jewish community in France, says the same thing. "Everyone is afraid of Le Pen. If Le Pen takes power, France is finished. They will leave Europe with at least another ten countries and Europe is over, but what do we care? What interests us is the Jews. They need to know that it is dangerous to lay a hand on the Jews."


Russian Lawmaker Accuses Jews of Boiling Christians in Cauldrons

By AFP

A pro-Kremlin lawmaker came under fire Monday after saying the ancestors of local Jewish opposition figures in Saint-Petersburg "boiled Christians in cauldrons", sparking indignation from Russia's Jewish community.

Vitaly Milonov, a Duma deputy known for his anti-gay initiatives, lashed out this weekend at two local lawmakers leading a protest against handing over St. Isaac's basilica, a top landmark in Russia's second largest city, to the Russian Orthodox Church.

"Christians survived despite the fact that the ancestors of Boris Vishnevsky and Maksim Reznik boiled us in cauldrons and fed us to animals," ultra-conservative Milonov said at a rally Sunday to support the controversial handover.

The statement triggered a storm of criticism, with another local lawmaker Alexei Kovalev petitioning for a criminal probe into possible incitement of hatred while prominent Jewish figures said it was shameful and could spark religious tensions.

"For a State Duma deputy it is unacceptable to make such irresponsible statements," said the spokesman of Russia's Federation of Jewish Communities (FEOR) Borukh Gorin. "Such a statement reeks of mediaeval obscurantism, discredits modern Russia and is shameful of the party which he represents," he told the Lekhaim Jewish magazine. Russian Jewish Congress president Yury Kaner told AFP: "It is clear to any normal person that these lawmakers are of Jewish descent and that he means Jews" by his statement.

A fellow local lawmaker, Alexey Kovalev, officially appealed Monday to Russia's investigative committee to launch a probe against Milonov. Milonov "committed actions inciting hatred" and "dishonored" the lawmakers, Kovalev said in his appeal, posted on his official Facebook page. He asked that Milonov's statements be investigated under Russia's anti-extremism law, which is widely used to prosecute opposition figures.

Russia has a long history of anti-Semitism, with pogroms and settlement regulations in Czarist times, as well as various limits on education and careers in the Soviet era. Last year Russia emerged as the top country of origin among immigrants to Israel, with some 7,000 newcomers.

Israeli Startup Develops a Flying Cell Phone Case

By Virtual Jerusalem

The Tel Aviv startup SelFly has designed a phone case that flies and takes selfies. See https://youtu.be/6jc__cOY_tM

The device is a flying, autonomous camera that doubles as a protective cell phone case. If you want to take a picture, you simply detach the case from the back of the phone and launch it into the air. An app on the phone then allows you to take pictures from the air.

Most interestingly, the drone's movement is based on how the photo is manipulated on the phone. In other words, the camera follows flight patterns based on the way you move the image displayed on the screen.

SelFly have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the mass production of the device, and they've already received $370,000, which is almost twice the amount that they're asking for. The first buyers are expected to receive their orders in June.

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