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Putin-Netanyahu Deal to Remove Foreign Forces from Syria Breaks New Ground for Both

By DEBKAfile

When President Vladimir Putin sat down with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Feb. 27, the US envoy Jared Kushner was in Ankara, and two days earlier, Bashar Assad arrived in Tehran on a surprise visit. All the parties involved in Syria were on the move to break the deadlock on Syria's future. And for the first time, Israel's leader was given a place at the table by the Russian president. The only Iranian officials who knew the Syrian leader was coming on Monday, Feb. 25 were supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran's Middle East commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. No word leaked from their tightly closed-door conversations. However, the Ayatollah is believed to have directed Assad to hand over to Iranian firms all the contracts for his country's vast reconstruction projects and to turn away all oil-rich Arab emirates funding propositions. In Moscow, Israel's Military Intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman spread before Putin maps showing Iranian military sites in Syria. Netanyahu's main object in meeting Putin at this time was to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria. The Russian leader replied that both Jerusalem and Moscow have a common goal, which is "to return the situation in Syria to what it was before the eight-year-long civil war." This was a landmark departure for both. Its epic significance was shouted down by Israel's tempestuous election campaign and the attorney general's ruling on the bribery case against the prime minister. What happened in Moscow was that Netanyahu broke with the conventional wisdom of his intelligence chiefs, who consistently claimed that Assad had lost the war and that the IDF had destroyed 90% of Iran's military structures in Syria. Admitting that neither was realistic, he struck a deal with Putin for setting up a joint Russian-Israeli commission for the removal of all foreign forces from Syria. For Putin, this was an audacious albeit calculated move. If Assad, whose regime he had saved, could fly to Tehran without a word to Moscow, Putin was ready to introduce Israel into discussions on the future of Syria. After last month's talks with Iran's Hassan Rouhani and Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, the Russian president was bringing Netanyahu into the equation. The prime minister also trod on new terrain when he agreed to talk with the Russian president on ways to remove "all foreign forces" from Syria – American as well as Iranian – and even to discuss the security arrangements to prevail after they were gone. As for Jared Kushner's meetings that same Wednesday with Erdogan, the official word was that they discussed the US Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. What they talked about was the creation of a Turkish-led buffer zone in northern Syria and the sale of US Patriot air defense missiles for the Turkish army, provided Erdogan canceled his S-400 missile deal with Moscow. Therefore, while in Ankara, Kushner discussed with Erdogan the introduction of Turkish troops into Syria (on certain conditions), in Moscow, Netanyahu and Putin laid plans for the withdrawal of all foreign troops. It will take a while to find out whether these discussions lead anywhere or peter out like so many other moves on Syria. It will be interesting to see if Netanyahu can serve as a bridge between Donald Trump and Putin on the Syrian question. The US president's hands are tied by the conspiracy climate in Washington around any connection with Moscow. Netanyahu too is hobbled by the charged atmosphere over the allegations against him and his challengers' loud calls for his resignation. Nevertheless, while both are severely hampered for seizing bold new initiatives, Putin has opened a door.

Official PA Daily Calls Trump's Special Envoy Greenblatt `a Mongoloid'

By Palestinian Media Watch and In an unprecedented personal attack, Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, a regular columnist for the official Palestinian Authority (PA) daily and once the adviser to former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on national affairs, called President Trump's Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, a "Mongoloid." In an op-ed rejecting the as-yet-unpublished US Middle East peace initiative, Trump's "deal of the century," Al-Ghoul compared Greenblatt's appearance and conduct to that of someone suffering from Down Syndrome: "Anyone who follows the prattle of Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's envoy in the matter of the deal of the century, sees that his condition is very similar to Down Syndrome… Anyone who looks at the American envoy [Greenblatt] discovers that he has external and inner characteristics similar to those suffering from Down Syndrome: He is short, his eyes are similar to Mongoloid eyes, and he prattles unrestrainedly, and is politically retarded." Al-Ghoul added that it is not only Greenblatt who suffers from Down Syndrome but the entire Trump administration: "The ill Greenblatt is not the only one who has Down Syndrome, for it strikes all the components of the American administration. Anyone who examines the general genes of the components of the Trump administration sees that it is a politically crippled creature." Al-Ghoul ended by saying that Trump, Greenblatt, and the rest of the US team can "prattle on as much as they wish" about their "ominous" peace plan, but that PA Chairman Abbas is the one who decides: "Mongoloid Greenblatt, together with President Trump, his son-in-law [Senior Advisor to the President of the United States] Jared Kushner, and Zionist [US] Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman – can prattle on as much as they wish about the ominous deal. However, they should know for certain that without the signature of PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas no deal will pass, and their foolish steps and policy will continue to be pointless." While personal attacks on representatives of the US administration by PA officials are not uncommon, as documented by Palestinian Media Watch, this latest attack sets a new low, even for the PA, its representatives, and its mouthpieces. The US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, blasted the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida Sunday after the Arabic daily published the article. "In today's issue of Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official daily of the PA, Jason Greenblatt is criticized as a "Mongoloid" & acting as if he has Downs Syndrome. I am disgusted —not for Jason (he's got broad shoulders) — but by this utter disregard for the value of every human life."

Terrorist Reveals Horrific Details of Rape, Killing of Jewish Teen

By World Israel News

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court has extended until Thursday the arrest of Arafat Irfaiya, the 29-year-old Hebron resident suspected of murdering teenager Ori Ansbacher in the Ein Yael area outside Jerusalem in February. The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office issued a statement saying that it intended to file an indictment against Irfaiya by Thursday. Irfaiya told investigators that he did not plan much of the attack in advance aside from purchasing a skullcap so he could slip into Israel undetected, Channel 12 news reported Saturday. "I bought the yarmulke two weeks earlier, so I could enter Israel without being suspected or identified as an illegal resident," Irfaiya reportedly told investigators, adding that he did not tell anyone else of his plans in advance. "I left my home to kill a Jew due to the occupation and treatment of Arabs at checkpoints," he reportedly said. According to the report, Irfaiya told investigators he met Ansbacher, 19, by chance in a forested area close to Jerusalem where she was sitting on a rock, writing in a notebook. Irfaiya reportedly said he stabbed Ansbacher three times and dragged her as she tried to resist. He then stabbed her further, before gagging her with her scarf and binding her hands. The suspect said that after the attack, he took Ansbacher's cellphone and destroyed the memory card. At that point, Irfaiya took a taxi, which eventually took him to the Ramallah-area. Nothing about his escape route was planned, he said. After he hid the knife, which was later found among bags of cement near the mosque in which he was hiding, he was found by Israeli counter-terror officers. Last month, the Shin Bet security service announced that the murder was a terror attack, saying Irfaiya re-enacted the murder of Ansbacher in front of interrogators and "implicated himself definitively in the incident." The suspect reportedly told interrogators that he entered Israel and looked for a Jewish victim because he wanted to be a martyr. "I entered Israel with a knife because I wanted to become a martyr and murder a Jew," he reportedly said. "I met the girl by chance." Channel 13 news reported that Irfaiya was arrested in 2017 at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem armed with a large kitchen knife, and had indicated that if released, he would "come back here with a knife." Additional details regarding the investigation remain under a gag order.

Israelis tell the US not to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty in Golan


Representatives of the Israeli defense establishment have caused senior US senators to understand that it is best not to legislate the bill for American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, at least not at this time, Israel Hayom reported. The Israeli officials, representatives of the defense establishment, said at an internal meeting of members of the Senate that Israel's presence on the Golan Heights is a fact that in any case is not in dispute, and it is, therefore, unclear to them what the logic is in legislating a law that will only stimulate discussion of the subject. Israeli opposition to the bill comes despite the support of both parties in the US. The paper noted that the bill was presented last week by Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, and is also supported by senior Democratic figures. The senators who heard the Israeli position as presented by the representatives were surprised because they believed that American recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights was an Israeli interest. According to Israel Hayom, the prime minister's office responded: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken with President Trump many times, including only recently, about the need to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. From an examination conducted, no official in the Israeli defense establishment conveyed this message or messages in this spirit."

WhatsApp Account Hijacking Wave

One recent evening, a message was sent to a WhatsApp school group. It was T.'s phone. He changed the number to the prefix 963, Syria's prefix. Only minutes later would it be clear what had happened, but at that moment the name of the WhatsApp group changed. "ONLY VIRUS" was the name the hacker called the group, and the original name disappeared. Messages in Arabic began to flow at a pace and the fear level among the parents climbed. Ido Naor, a senior researcher at Kaspersky Lab who was providentially also a member of the WhatsApp group began investigating and discovered that as part of an attempt to access phone numbers for collecting information, the hacker managed to take over the WhatsApp account of one of the group members and send messages on her behalf to contacts and groups in which she is a member. So how is the account stolen? The attacker downloads the WhatsApp application to a fictitious phone and declares that your number is his. The victim receives an SMS message that is part of the 2-step verification process, which is designed to prevent account hijacking. At the same time, the attacker approaches the victim and persuades him to send him the six digits in the message or click on the link in the message. Although the SMS message unequivocally states the warning "Do not share the code with anyone," in practice, quite a few users fall victim and share the code with the attacker. After receiving the code, the hacker enters the six digits on his fictitious phone and takes complete control over the victim's WhatsApp account. The takeover is complete. According to Naor, this is not a virus, nor a Trojan horse, but a method called Social Engineering that aims to fool the victim and persuade him to obey the attacker's requests to carry out an action while being unaware of its consequences. The attacker's mode of operation Naor experienced himself. "After taking over T's WhatsApp account, the assailant continued to contact all the members of the group," explains Naor. "In such a situation, when one victim falls into a group, the trick is to stop the hemorrhage." Because in many cases the attacker does not change the account's name, the attacker's referral will appear as the innocent face of a friend or one of the contacts, increasing the likelihood of responding to his or her request. And the problem does not end here. From an examination conducted by Naor, it turns out that there is currently no way to regain control over an account that was hijacked. Meaning that the attacker will have access to all the details of the WhatsApp account, its messages and the contacts, and can communicate undisturbed with the contacts, using the identity of the victim. The investigation also shows that in case of a hijacked account, it is impossible to reclaim it. The original account holder may open a new WhatsApp account without all the groups he was a member of, but the account details, with all that this implies, remain in the possession of the hijacker. Other examples of account hijackings were identified in Israel and Europe over the last week, and local forums have been filling requests for help. Calls to WhatsApp were not answered. If you receive an SMS containing a verification code, do not send it to anyone and it should be ignored. The code will expire within a short time and the hacker will disappear. So the solution is simple: Ignore!

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