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Netanyahu Accuses Abbas of `Running Away' from Peace Process

By World Israel News

It's rare that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faces the Israeli press. It's very rare that Netanyahu takes questions from the foreign and foreign language media. Wednesday night was one such occasion, as the Government Press Office hosted Israel's 70th anniversary New Year's reception for hundreds of journalists.

Held in an opulent reception hall at the new Orient Hotel in Jerusalem, the event featured a range of entertainment and an impressive buffet, but less than 10 minutes of the Prime Minister on stage answering journalists' questions.

In his opening statement, before taking only three questions, Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians' support of terrorism for the lack of a peace process in the Middle East and told the foreign journalists not to give Abbas "credence."

Netanyahu went on to praise American Ambassador David Friedman for placing blame on the Palestinians' support of terrorism for the Tuesday night terror shooting that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach. Netanyahu told foreign journalists, "I want to congratulate Ambassador Friedman who tweeted the truth, unvarnished."

Friedman had earlier tweeted, "An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further as to why there is no peace."

The PA reacted angrily to Friedman's comments, and accused the ambassador of "prejudiced and selective attitude toward the occupation, settlement construction, and the Palestinians just and legitimate national rights."

Netanyahu said, "Abbas' government is supporting the kind of murderers that shot dead a father of six. Such people in our jails get $355 million a year, they and their families, from the Palestinian Authority. That is something that is untenable."

Netanyahu berated the media charging that they fail to adequately report on the fact that the PA pays "salaries" to imprisoned terrorists and their families. "Funding and incentivizing murder doesn't exactly advance peace." Netanyahu added, "The Palestinian leadership teach their people, `Kill an Israel and get rich.' Now what kind of message does this send to impressionable Palestinian children?"

Netanyahu has of late been a very strong critic of the media and has even adopted President Trump's phrase "fake news." Netanyahu challenged the foreign journalists to write stories about his government's unprecedented NIS 15 billion programs to improve conditions for Israel's Arab population. He also told the gathering that they were misleading the public when they describe Iran's government as "moderate" due to its hardline and repressive policies.

Responding to a question about US and Israeli cuts in financial support for the Palestinian Authority and whether those cuts could lead to a collapse of the PA, Netanyahu briefly replied, "I don't think it will lead to a collapse of the Palestinian Authority, but I think they should redirect their funds to other things."

Netanyahu then went on to offer his position on funding for UNWRA. "My position is that it's not a question of defunding UNWRA but rather of replacing UNWRA after 70 years and instead give the funding to an agency that deals with the real needs of refugees. There are millions of refugees around the world who are taken care of by organizations like the UN High Commission on Refugees and other UN organizations, but only the Palestinians have a specific organization that is supposed to solve their refugee problem but in fact it perpetuates it.

"That's what UNWRA does. How long will it exist? It's been 70 years. We already have great, great grandchildren who are considered refugees who are not refugees, but they are listed on the lists of UNWRA. I suggest something else. A gradual conversion of all funds going to UNWRA to other agencies that deal with refugees and have actual criteria.

"This will have positive effects because the perpetuation of the dream of bringing the decedents of refugees back to Jaffa is what sustains this conflict and UNWRA is part of the problem and not part of the solution."

The final question of the evening was about reports of an impending US peace plan that may soon be floated. The Prime Minister was asked, "What would your ultimate deal look like?"

Netanyahu responded, "Well, why don't you let Mr. Trump present his plan first and then we will see what the penultimate and ultimate deal is. It takes time I don't know if he will present it but (unlike the Palestinians) we have certainly not announced at any time that we will walk away because Mr. Trump said something that is so self-evident. Trump said that the seat of government of Israel is in Jerusalem, the Knesset our parliament is in Jerusalem, the Supreme Court is in Jerusalem, you know that's not going to change."

Netanyahu continued, "Jerusalem is the Israeli capital under any deal, ultimate or not, everybody understands that in any future deal Jerusalem is Israel's capital and therefore it makes sense to move the American embassy there. It's so obvious and so true." Netanyahu seemed surprised that his Jerusalem comments to foreign journalists received an impressive round of applause.

According to Netanyahu, Abbas has used Trump's statement on Jerusalem to run away from the negotiations. "He's done it before. His predecessor Arafat ran away from Camp David with President Clinton. Abbas ran away from a proposed discussion that President Obama suggested based on Kerry's deliberations. I think the last thing you should do as journalists is to give him credence. If you want to negotiate peace you have got to negotiate. We have never made any preconditions on negotiations. I don't do so now and of course if Trump puts forward his ideas I will study them very carefully."

Report: Netanyahu Offered PA the Sinai Instead of 'West Bank'


Four former senior US officials claimed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered the Obama administration a two-state solution in which Israel annexed the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria in exchange for land in northern Sinai, next to Gaza, Haaretz reported.

According to the officials, Netanyahu told then-President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry that he was sure Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi would agree to the plan. However, when the US considered the idea, they received a negative response. Netanyahu's office has denied this report, claiming it "is not accurate."

In November 2017, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) said a Palestinian state could not exist in Judea and Samaria, suggesting northern Sinai as an alternative. Later that same month, Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak denied a report that his country in 1983 had agreed to settle Palestinian Authority Arabs in his country at the United States' request. He also said he had rejected a similar proposal by Netanyahu in 2010, and told him "he should not even dare to think of such an idea."

In 2014, Army Radio reported that current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offered Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas 160 square kilometers of the Sinai Peninsula adjoining Gaza if the PA would cease demanding Israel return to the pre-1967 borders. Such an offer would have created a Palestinian state five times the present size of Gaza.

However, Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper reported that el-Sisi denied the reports he had offered to establish a Palestinian state in the Sinai Peninsula, and former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Tzvi Mazel, told Arutz Sheva that the reports were a hoax.

US Creates New Team to Probe Hizbullah Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering

By VOA News

The U.S. Department of Justice has assembled a team of prosecutors to investigate allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hizbullah. The allegations were reportedly not pursued by the previous administration because of Iranian sensitivities.

The new Hizbullah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team of federal prosecutors will examine all cases stemming from Project Cassandra, an Obama-era Drug Enforcement Administration task force that targeted Hizbullah's money laundering and drug trafficking in the United States, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Thursday.

"The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis," Sessions said in a statement.

Launched in 2008, Project Cassandra revealed that the Lebanon-based Hizbullah was involved in shipping cocaine to the U.S. and laundering money by buying used cars in America and exporting them to Africa. The scheme evolved into a billion-dollar criminal network, Politico Magazine reported last month.

But, according to Politico, the Obama White House blocked the DEA's requests for further investigations and prosecutions while it was negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran. The report led Sessions to order a review of the handling of Project Cassandra.

"While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last administration to allowing DEA agents to fully bring all appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans," Sessions said when he ordered the review in December.

The new team of prosecutors specializing in international narcotics trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, and money laundering will ensure that "all Project Cassandra investigations as well as other related investigations, whether past or present, are given the needed resources and attention to come to their proper resolution," said the attorney general.

The initiative comes as the Trump Administration ratchets up its rhetoric against Iran, accusing it of supporting terrorist organizations such as Hizbullah and fomenting instability in the Middle East. Trump also faces a Friday deadline to decide if he will continue to suspend sanctions on Iran under the Iran nuclear agreement - a pact he has vowed to end.

The president must sign a series of waivers every few months to maintain the suspension of sanctions on Iran and to keep the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal fully intact. Trump has called the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement "the worst deal ever." In October, he refused to certify that Iran was in compliance with the agreement, saying it wasn't in U.S. national security interests.

The new team of investigators will be led by Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan of the criminal division and will coordinate with investigators from DEA, FBI, Homeland Security and other organizations. The U.S. State Department designated Hizbullah as a terrorist group in 1997.

Jewish Sites Firebombed on Tunisian Island of Djerba

By Israel Hayom

A Jewish school on the southern Tunisian island of Djerba, home to an ancient Jewish community, was firebombed on Tuesday, amid country-wide violent protests fueled by economic hardship. Local media reported that Molotov cocktails had also been hurled at the entrances of many other Jewish locations, including a synagogue, causing no damage to the interiors.

There were no protests in Djerba itself, but locals said unknown assailants apparently exploited the diminished security, as police forces were busy elsewhere, to launch attacks. "Unknown people took the opportunity of the protests and threw Molotov cocktails into the lobby of [the] … school," the head of the local Jewish community, Perez Trabelsi, told Reuters. "The perpetrators want to sow dissension between Jewish and Muslim communities living in harmony on the island for many years," Trabelsi said.

Djerba is home to Tunisia's main Jewish community, which numbers in the hundreds. The 2,500-year-old Ghriba synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Africa, was targeted in a 2002 terrorist attack that killed 21 people, including Western tourists.

Tuesday's fire was at a smaller prayer site. In recent days, violent protests over price hikes have left one person dead and raised fears of broader unrest in the country that was the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

No Jews, No 9/11, Says Leading US Neo-Nazi


The 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center would never have occurred had it not been for Jews, according to a leading figure of a United States neo-Nazi movement.

As the United States experiences a spike in anti-Semitic incidents, Israeli journalist and former politician Nitzan Horowitz paid a visit to the country where he conducted an interview with Matthew Heimbach, a far-right white nationalist who advocates a vehemently anti-Semitic agenda.

Leader of The Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), Heimbach told Horowitz in the interview that Jews are responsible for just about all of America's ills and shortcomings. Jews, who he and his cronies say, "should go home to Israel" and are not American, can be blamed for "working to enslave and displace all our peoples" through their alleged domination of Wall Street, are "hostile" to American communities and family and are responsible for the US's trillion-dollar financial deficit.

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