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Trump Increases Staff for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Team

By the Jerusalem Post

President Donald Trump is adding staff to his Middle East peace team ahead of its rollout of a plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The White House policy team, currently centered on three of the president's closest advisers, is recruiting staffers from other government agencies to help them message the plan to the public. They also seek expert units on the plan's political elements as well as its economic components, according to reporting by the Associated Press. Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser leading the peace effort; and Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, "are expanding their team and the resources available as they finalize the details and rollout strategy of the peace initiative," a National Security Council spokesman confirmed. "They continue to work very closely with the National Security Council staff and State Department." David Friedman, the president's ambassador to Israel, is also deeply involved in the planning. The administration has been working on the plan for more than a year but few details are known of its contents. The team has yet to decide when it will begin the rollout, or how, including whether they will preview it with the parties before releasing it publicly. That will prove difficult with the Palestinian Authority, which cut off contact with the White House after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6 last year. Members of the team broadly describe the plan as a detailed, pragmatic outline for a resolution to the conflict, focused heavily on economic revitalization of the Palestinian territories and Israeli security guarantees. Up until now, they have avoided using the term "two-state solution," which has led Palestinians to believe the plan will not explicitly endorse their sovereignty claims.

Will Incendiary Kites Spread to the West Bank?

By the Jerusalem Post
The two incendiary kites that landed Monday in the vineyard of the Tura Winery near the settlement of Har Bracha on Mount Gerizim looked like broken children's toys as they lay on the brown, stony hillside south of Nablus. But they sparked the question of whether Palestinians would adopt Hamas' tactic of launching incendiary devices at southern Israel from Gaza in the West Bank. Security sources added that these objects were a toned-down version of the Gaza kites. Only a small portion of the kite was burned, and the flame had already gone out by the time it landed. Security sources and Yesha Council security head Shlomo Vaknin said that flaming kites and balloons were unlikely to become a West Bank phenomenon. The wind patterns in Judea and Samaria, as well as the proximity of Palestinians and Israelis, make such attacks prohibitive, Vaknin said. The wind is just as likely to blow the incendiary objects into Palestinian areas as it is to push them into Israeli ones, he said. In contrast, the wind in Gaza almost always blows eastward from the Mediterranean Sea toward Israel, he added. Israeli-farmed fields in Judea and Samaria are more likely to be targeted by on-the-ground vandalism and arson than by flying objects, Vaknin said. Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said that, "based on inspections by the security forces, this was a ridiculous attempt by the Arabs in the area to harm the region and its agricultural fields. In contrast to the Gaza envelope, Samaria's topography [dictates] that anyone who releases a burning kite here will likely only harm local Arab fields. We are not afraid. The settlements are stronger than ever, and will continue to develop and grow," he added. Vered Ben-Sa'adon, who together with her husband runs the Tura Winery, said August is grape-harvest season. According to the winery's spokesperson, the company has 56 hectares (140 acres) of land and produces 100,000 bottles of wine annually. It also has olive groves, pressing a ton of olive oil annually. Their Mount Gerezim vineyard is located above the Palestinian city of Nablus, which includes the ruins of biblical Shechem. Aiming to avoid the midday heat, workers arrived in the fields at 3 a.m., she said. Her husband Erez found the kites at 8 o'clock. "It was fairly clear what they were," Vered said, adding that she hoped this was an isolated incident. The Palestinians, she said, are always changing their tactics, "but I hope this will be the end of it."

Iraqi National Soccer Team Visits Temple Mount

The Iraqi national soccer team is currently visiting the region as the guest of the Palestinian Authority. The Iraqi team played a game against the PA team and conducted tours of various sites, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The visiting team held the visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday morning. Afterward they took photographs on the steps of the compound and held a comprehensive tour of the Old City. The visit was reported by Maor Zemach, chairman of the Lech Yerushalayim movement, which is following the events in the eastern part of the capital. The Iraqi team stayed at a hotel in eastern Jerusalem, where it was greeted by senior Palestinian Authority officials, including Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the PA Football (soccer) Association, members of the PA Olympic Committee and other dignitaries. Tzemach noted that the soccer game itself took place in Ahram, north of Jerusalem last Friday, in which the visiting team won 3-1. Also, Tzemach noted that during the game itself, the viewers waved banners bearing the picture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. During the Gulf War the PLO encouraged the firing of missiles from Iraq on Israel. In those days, the Palestinians carried out the call, "Ya-Sadam Ya Habib Odarov Oderov Tel Aviv" (the beloved Saddam, hit Tel Aviv), a call that also caused outrage among Israeli leftist circles. Tzemach concluded: "Only under Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount is freedom of worship allowed for all religions, and it is important to establish a procedure to accompany senior delegations from the Arab world to visit the Temple Mount and to prevent the PA from taking over and demonstrating the presence In Jerusalem when he brings visiting delegations from the Arab world to Jerusalem."

Osama Bin Laden's Son Marries 9/11 Hijacker's Daughter


In an interview with the Guardian, Osama Bin Laden's family said that Hamza Bin Laden. 29, had recently married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, who piloted the hijacked American Airlines jet into the Twin Towers in 2001. Hamza is seen as a rising star in the Al Qaeda terror network and reports say that he is attempting to become the group's leader. In 2017, Hamza bin Laden can be seen saying in a 10-minute video that Muslims in "America, the West and occupied Palestine" should carry out attacks against Jews and Americans. The video includes clips of terror attacks that have been perpetrated around the world, including some from Israel. Hazma bin Laden said it is not necessary to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State. "Know that inflicting punishment on Jews and crusaders where you are present is more vexing and severe for the enemy," he reportedly said in the video. American and NATO targets are appropriate where there are no Jewish targets, he said.

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