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Report States Trump Peace Plan Leaves Out Palestinian State

By World Israel News

Israeli news outlets were abuzz on Monday with news of a Sunday evening report in The Washington Post that the Trump administration's Mideast peace plan drops the idea of a Palestinian State. If true, it would explain last Friday's remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's election pledge to annex Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria wouldn't hurt the prospects for `deal of the century' — the term President Donald Trump coined to describe an agreement that successfully brought peace to the Arab-Israel conflict. According to the Post, the plan, which will be released in the spring or early summer, will offer "practical improvements" for Palestinians but "is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinian state," sources say. The point man for the plan is Trump adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He has described the proposal, which has received input from Arabs, Israelis and "partners in the region" as "fair," "realistic," and "implementable." However, The Washington Post reports that most analysts say it's unlikely to succeed. The main stumbling block will be the Palestinian leadership, which halted official contact with the Trump administration in December 2017 after the president announced his intention to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. "It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said on Dec. 6, 2017. "I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." The lead U.S. negotiator for the plan will be former Trump lawyer Jason Greenblatt, now a special representative for international negotiations. He appealed to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in a tweet on April 11: "To the PA: Our plan will greatly improve Palestinian lives & create something very different than what exists. It's a realistic plan to thrive/prosper even if it means compromises. It's not a `sell out' — if the plan isn't realistic, no one can deliver it." Greenblatt linked to an April 8 Bloomberg story, which cited Abbas adviser Nabil Shaath saying that the PA "won't reject the Trump administration's peace plan out of hand, but doesn't expect it will be acceptable." On April 14, however, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, during the swearing-in ceremony of his new government, reiterated his firm opposition to the Trump plan. "We opposed the deal from the start, since it removed Al Quds [Jerusalem] from Palestine, so we didn't want the rest of the deal, since there can be no [Palestinian] state without Al Quds [Jerusalem], and there won't be any state in Gaza and there won't be a state without Gaza," Abbas said. The Israelis have signaled they are open to considering the plan. The Washington Post quotes an interview with Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon. "Unlike the Palestinians, we do respect the work that was done by the team, and we will be willing to look at it and speak about it. The Palestinians say exactly the opposite — they say we don't want to speak with the Israelis, and we don't want to see the plan that was drafted by the U.S.," Danon said.

Gazans Blast Hamas for `Trading Children for Fish'

By TPS
A Gaza-based reporter with connections to Hamas leadership described to TPS how the terror group lures children to approach the border with Israel and puts them in life-endangering situations, a tactic that is now causing locals to accuse the terror group of needlessly sacrificing their children for paltry "accomplishments." Hamas' strategy involves sending buses to mosques, where children go for activities. The children are then sent out by buses to the border fence. Each cluster of mosques is assigned to a designated zone on the fence. Hamas provides refreshments, food, and entertainment to entice the children to join them. Hamas has recently added free Wi-Fi to the experience, which enables the children to surf the net while Hamas broadcasts live footage from the violence. Hamas has complete control of the level of violence on the fence, and orders the number of buses each week by its leadership's decision on how large and violent the demonstrations will be. The plans are finalized by Wednesday, and one can assess the size of the pending Friday demonstration based on the number of buses Hamas has ordered that week. Hamas has control of the hostilities to the extent that it has issued a religious decree that anyone who approaches the fence on his own volition and is killed will not be considered a "shahid," a martyr killed fighting infidels. The reporter noted that Hamas is losing its support in Gaza, and therefore has added new ways to entice children to come to the border, including cash gifts. He added that public criticism of Hamas' usage of children is growing, and the phrase "trading children for fish" has spread, mocking Hamas for Israel's recent decision to expand fishing zones off the coast of Gaza in exchange for modulating the weekly border violence. Gazans say that even though several children have died during the riots on the fence, Hamas' meager achievement a year later is broader fishing areas. Finally, the reporter noted the irony in expanded fishing rights. The situation in Gaza is so bad that even though fishermen can bring in more fish, no one is buying them because they have no money, and the stalls remain loaded with their catch, due to the dire economic situation Hamas has created in the strip by diverting resources to its massive terror campaign.

Counter-Terrorism Bureau Warns Israelis of Terrorist Attacks in the Sinai

By the Jerusalem Post

Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned Israelis of a serious threat of terrorist attacks in the Sinai as it issued a travel warning, according to MivzakLive. The bureau told all Israelis living or visiting the Sinai should leave immediately. The director of the Foreign Ministry's overseas department toured the Israel-Sinai border on Monday according to the report. The Foreign Ministry continued to urge Israeli citizens to obey Egyptian law and avoid carry items into the Sinai that may get them in trouble, i.e. bullets and drugs. On more than one occasion, Israelis have been arrested or entangled with the law because they have accidentally brought bullets into foreign countries. Two Israelis were apprehended while crossing the Taba border in March. According to the Foreign Ministry, inadvertently carrying bullets in one's luggage is a common slip up for many Israelis when they go abroad. The two were later released. "The Foreign Ministry urges citizens to check their bags before traveling," the ministry said after the incident. "The growing phenomenon in which Israelis are arrested/detained abroad because of bullets requires citizens' to be careful and inspect their luggage before travel." In November, a young Israeli couple at the Tbilisi airport was arrested when a bullet was found in their bags. The two were released from detention but needed to stay in Georgia until the investigation into the matter was completed.

Will Assault Drones Become a Frequent Presence in Mideast Skies?

By The Media Line & YnetNews

For Israel, countering the threat from the air – especially from non-state actors such as Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hizbullah – requires superior intelligence, advances in technology and plain old deterrence Matiga Airport in Tripoli, Libya, recently briefly closed down due to security concerns over an unidentified drone that had entered the area, airport officials say. Residents have reported that drones are a frequent presence over the Libyan capital. While unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now an element of warfare in the Middle East – Libya has been involved in a civil war since 2014 – experts warn that they could become much more prevalent in the years to come. According to a recent report in the Economist, there is an unquenchable thirst for armed drones throughout the region. One big reason is China, which has flooded the Middle Eastern market with UAVs. The U.S. and other Western governments have sought to limit the proliferation of such technology, but Beijing has been eager to sell cheaper and less sophisticated models. It has already sold such drones to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. There are also signs that the US is trying to secure a larger portion of the market for itself, with the Trump Administration loosening restrictions on military exports. The result has been an uptick in the use of drones as part of regional clashes. For example, non-state actors like the Iran-backed Houthis have used them dozens of times in recent months in Yemen to attack forces allied with internationally-recognized President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Terrorist groups like Islamic State and Lebanon-based Hizbullah have also employed them to attack adversaries. Governments, too, often rely on drones, using them for surveillance or attack purposes. Several countries in the region, including Israel, Turkey, and Iran, produce their own models – but they are also scrambling to protect themselves against drones used by their enemies. The Israelis have made significant strides on this front. "We know that Hizbullah is using drones, definitely with the assistance of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and we know that Hamas and Islamic State are using them, either as weapons or for surveillance purposes," says Yoram Schweitzer, head of the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. What's more, says Schweitzer, they are using their UAVs with fewer limitations. "When Israel identifies foreign drones attempting to infiltrate its airspace, it shoots them down, not with airplanes but with other means," he says, citing the case of an armed Iranian drone the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) downed in the north of the country last year. Prof. Asa Kasher, who teaches ethics and philosophy at Tel Aviv University and helped write the IDF's Code of Ethics, says that "Israel's long-standing strategy consists of three components – first of all, intelligence superiority." This means that security forces do their best to know the whereabouts of everything that moves in the skies over the Middle East, he explained. Kasher said that if a UAV is hostile, another defense component is technological superiority, which allows the threat to be neutralized quickly. "The third element," he continued, "is deterrence. If worse comes to worst and something does infiltrate our skies and carries out a hostile act against us, we will do whatever is required to teach the (operators) of this drone a lesson that would make them avoid any repeated activity against Israel." While armed drones are the bigger threat, the country knows no shortage of small, civilian-owned UAVs. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel, over 20,000 have been purchased for taking aerial photos or videos of everything from rescue operations to weddings, or merely for recreation. Wayward civilian drones have been responsible for briefly grounding flights at Ben-Gurion Airport. Late last year, airport officials closed Ben-Gurion's airspace on two occasions for a span of about 10-minutes due to the threat of collisions with arriving or departing airliners. There have been other incidents and even close calls. "The whole idea of commercial drones is a novelty," Kasher said. "The control systems, procedures, policies and conventions are all in the making. Sometimes the situation is not very clear, and you take steps to protect aviation. But this will improve over time."

Israeli Scientists Say They 3D-Printed a Heart

By Reuters and Israel Hayom
Israeli researchers said on Monday they have printed the world's first 3D heart with blood vessels, describing it as a major breakthrough in engineering replacements for diseased organs. At this stage, scientists printed pink and blue 3D rabbit-size hearts, but Prof. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University, who led the research for the study said that "larger human hearts require the same technology." The Israeli team's findings were published on Monday in Advanced Science, a peer-reviewed, open access journal. Dvir, in a statement, said scientists had 3D-printed the structure of the heart in the past but that "this is the first time that a whole heart, with blood vessels and cells, is printed." He said that given a dire shortage of heart donors, the need to develop new approaches to regenerate a diseased heart was urgent. It takes about three hours to 3D-print a heart, but Dvir said that the hearts themselves require further development as the cells need to form a pumping ability. The hearts can currently contract but still need to learn how to "behave like hearts," Dvir said, adding that he hopes to succeed and prove his method's efficacy and usefulness. The researchers took a biopsy of fatty tissue from patients, using their cells and biological materials as so-called bio-inks, or substances made of sugars and proteins. Immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels were printed and then an entire heart, Dvir said, adding that the use of "native," patient-specific materials was crucial to engineering tissues and organs successfully. "Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world and these procedures will be conducted routinely," Dvir said in a press release published by Tel Aviv University. The paper also notes that while 3D printing is considered a promising approach for engineering whole organs, several challenges remain.

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