The Bible Teaching Ministry of David Hocking
“The Word of our God shall stand forever” Isaiah 40:8

Browsing ‘Articles’


Monday, April 14th, 2014

by Shimon Cohen (Arutz Sheva News)

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) reiterated his opposition to releasing terrorists in order to continue peace talks on Monday, in light of news that developments after the Passover holiday will “not be good”, according to him.

“Mahmoud Abbas continues to blackmail Israel, and Israel continues to be blackmailed,” Danon said, in a special interview with Arutz Sheva. Danon expressed satisfaction with the decision of Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) and others to adopt his position, and place the fourth batch of terrorist releases as a “red line” for remaining in the coalition government.

When asked whether the various Deputy Ministers have coordinated a political walk-out, Danon stated that the issue is not a matter of coordinating politically – but, rather, coordinating shared values [to present to the government].

“You have to stand firm,” he said, over the possibility of a terrorist release. He rejected the notion of adopting other moves to allow the releases – such as enacting a construction freeze or revoking the Israeli Arab terrorists’ citizenship to allow them to be released as residents of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

“I’m ready, for the sake of justice, to stand alone as well,” Danon added, referring to the multiple threats by MKs to resign over the issue. “But to be successful you need more MKs.”

“I intend to continue to lead the fight,” he continued. “This a test to Bennett and his friends and members of the Likud.”

He clarified that in the event the deal goes through, he will send in his resignation letter as soon as the terrorists board a bus to freedom.

“The price I’m willing to pay is also my role [as an MK and Deputy Minister]” he says, noting that extending the negotiation period for peace talks, which would involve the division of Jerusalem and the uprooting of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, contradict the policies on which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was elected.

Danon called on the Prime Minister to stand by the principles he had outlined at the beginning of the process, when he said the negotiations would be held without any preconditions.

Last week, Jewish Home leader and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett threatened to resign from the government if Arab-Israeli terrorists were released in a possible agreement to trade longtime captive Jonathan Pollard for the release of hundreds of Arab terrorists.

“Israel has been facing a new situation in recent days, with the Palestinian appeal to the UN which flagrantly violated all the agreements with them since the Oslo Accords until today,” Bennett stated Thursday. “The emerging deal, if it includes the release of murderers with Israeli citizenship, harms Israeli sovereignty, and not only that – it is done being when the Palestinians have not cancelled their requests to join international organizations.”

“Therefore, if a proposal for release of Israeli murderers comes before the Cabinet, the Jewish Home will oppose it,” Bennett declared. “If the proposal will pass – the Jewish Home will resign from the government, which frees murderers with Israeli citizenship. Enough is enough.”

Other ministers and MKs followed suit over the past week, including several from Jewish Home. Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel stated Friday that his party would not stay in the event of a terrorist release “at any cost.”

Meanwhile, tensions remain high in the coalition, as several leftist MKs have declared in turn that they would resign in the event that peace talks fold.


Monday, April 14th, 2014

by Shimon Cohen and Tova Dvorin

Economics Minister and Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) Chairman Naftali Bennett wrote an open letter to Arab Israelis Sunday, explaining his stance on the possible deal to exchange peace talks for more terrorist releases and why it harms Israel’s Israeli-Arab minority.

“In this letter I turn to you, Arab-Israeli citizens of Israel, to explain things,” he begins. “There are many reasons to oppose the release of Israeli-Arab terrorists. First of all, they are murderers. Murderers do not get released. This is obvious, this is simple, it is strange to have to remind the public of this and explain it.”

“Jewish Home opposes the decision to release terrorist murderers now and they will in the future,” he continued. “A man who gets up in the morning with the intent to take the lives of men, women, and children is not even acknowledged as a man – we must punish him in the strictest terms possible. There is no forgiveness.”

“In addition, releasing terrorist murderers encourages terror. This is also simple and obvious. Whoever sees his friends released from prison, received with a king’s welcome and wealth after committing murder will take it as an example and the likelihood of him turning into a terrorist himself grows.”

Damage to Equal Rights

Bennett also explained that the move would harm Israeli-Arabs’ national image as a minority group.

“For you, Israeli Arabs, this subject brings up a touchier issue – the connection between you and the State of Israel,” he said. “A deal to release Israeli Arab terrorists would turn you, it seems, into second-class citizens. It hurts you, first and foremost.”

“A deal whereby the head of Fatah demands the release of Israeli Arab terrorists is a disgrace – which is not right – to the Arab sector,” he continued. “A deal like this damages your drive for equal rights. After all, if ‘Abu Mazen will arrange it for you,’ then Jewish Israelis will say, ‘let him arrange everything for you,’ then.”

Damage to the Workforce

Bennett then related to extra efforts by the Israeli government to ensure Israeli Arabs integrate well into wider society, including the workforce.

“Last year, I instructed the Ministry of Economy to make integration of the Arab sector into public employment top priority,” he stated. “To this end, we have invested tremendously in employment centers – especially for Arab women – and given special incentives to employees and employers and increased subsidies for daycare centers by tens of millions of shekels.”

“We have established business centers for the Arab public, established a loan fund for Arab women who wish to become entrepreneurs, and more,” he continued. “Just this week I met a group of hi-tech Arab entrepreneurs in Nazareth, to help them break into the international market.”

“We – the Israeli government, investors, and the public – believe in the need to incorporate Israeli Arabs into society, but a deal like this comes and says that the public, as well as Mahmoud Abbas, makes this sector a part of the Palestinian Authority by default,” he noted. “Would you like for fellow citizens, while you study at Tel Aviv or Haifa Universities, to look at you as representatives of a foreign organization, who have suddenly gained blue Israeli ID cards and now demand to be released from Israeli society? I don’t agree with that, and whoever does, does not do so for your benefit, but to see you lose your legitimacy in Israel.”

“I turn to you, each one of you, and say: respond yourselves to Abbas’s request, and say that fine Hebrew phrase: ‘Keep me from my beloved, I can protect myself from those who hate me.’”

“Or, in simple terms: This is no good,” he concluded.


Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

by Tova Dvorin (Arutz Sheva News)

Palestinian Authority (PA) sources told Walla! News Tuesday that the peace talks – which have not yet ceased, per se’, but are in danger of folding – are not as dire and dramatic as the media makes it out to be.

“It is evident that both sides don’t want the peace process to collapse,” a source told the daily, explaining that the media has over-hyped the drama unfolding during meetings between representatives.

According to the source, a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria is the real sticking point; while “controversy” continues over the PA’s bid to international organizations for legitimacy, terrorist releases, and extending negotiations beyond the April deadline, he hinted that solutions are being discussed.

The construction freeze, however, is “problematic,” and the source explained that “a partial freeze is unacceptable” to the PA.

“We will not allow Minister Uri Ariel to continue to run wild and build Jewish homes under excuses like ‘the tenders have already been approved,’” the PA official snapped. “We’re ready for all of the Israeli government’s tricks. If we are to continue negotiations, a complete freeze needs to be introduced by the end of the months.”

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has declared that peace talks are dead, according to Ma’ariv, and lamented that negotiations have seen Israel blamed once again.

“On Passover, we should free ourselves from irrelevant concepts in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Ya’alon stated Tuesday. “It became clear in recent months, unsurprisingly, that the Palestinian side is interested in getting, not in giving. They told us clearly over the past several months: ‘I will not talk to you about the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, or giving up the Right of Return.”"

“I am not a doomsayer; I am a realist,” Ya’alon continued. “Unfortunately, on these issues, I find myself repeating over and over again, ‘I told you so.’ I wish it could have been different. I learned that this was so when I was the head of intelligence and now I’ve been shouting it for the past 20 years. Every time, the Palestinians run away from talks and then blame us.”

After a dramatic series of negotiations, Israel officially cancelled the fourth release of convicted Arab terrorists on Thursday and issued harsh sanctions on the PA over its unilateral diplomatic moves to apply for 15 UN-linked agencies.

In response, the PA issued a number of extreme demands against Israel, including the release of over 1,000 terrorists and a withdrawal to 1949 Armistice lines – essentially demanding concessions on all key issues before negotiations even continue.

The PA also continues to blame Israel over talks failing, claiming the release was pre-planned and that Israel merely wanted to stall for time. Ramallah has also blamed “settlement building” for the failure – especially after far-left group Peace Now ran to international media claiming that 700 building tenders had been submitted for Jerusalem housing after peace talks folded.


Monday, April 7th, 2014

by Ari Yashar (Arutz Sheva News)

The annual Israel Day Parade on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, which will take place on June 1, is facing a crisis over the inclusion of three “Jewish groups” that promote the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement targeting the Jewish state.

Several groups are organizing a protest rally for April 8 as part of a campaign to have the parade sponsors remove their invitations to the controversial groups. Further, unless the groups are pulled, several local rabbis, including day school and yeshiva principals, are considering boycotting the event, thereby significantly reducing the number of participants.

Among the BDS-associated groups scheduled to take part: “Partners for Progressive Israel” lists Israeli products to boycott on its website; the New Israel Fund (NIF) has supported BDS and reportedly been encouraging Arab riots; volunteers with B’Tselem have taken part in Arab riots. NIF and B’Tselem have also been implicated in pro-BDS activities, including via subsidiaries, videos and statements. All three are currently set to march in the parade under their own banners.

Making Israel a global pariah at Israel Day Parade

The parade this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and has reached a projected size of 35,000 marchers. For the first time, at least four floats representing communities and institutions in Judea and Samaria will take part in the event.

However, Rabbi Aryeh Spero, author of “Push Back: Reclaiming Our American Judeo-Christian Spirit,” notes that is not a reason to provide a counter-platform for BDS.

“Boycotting is an action that far exceeds disagreement. At its core, it is a public venue designed to demonize, ultimately to make something, in this case, the State of Israel, illegitimate. It is a form of anti-Semitism,” the rabbi noted.

“These BDS groups work every day to isolate Israel and make her a global pariah, announcing to the world the names of specific Jewish-owned companies operating in Judea and Samaria that they want punished,” charged Rabbi Spero.

Rabbi Spero adds that “these ‘Jewish’ groups are being invited to infiltrate the Parade, either because of agreement with their tactics or as a way of affirming what the UJA-Federation calls ‘an open tent.’ UJA’s desire for an ‘open tent’ should not devolve into the destruction of the tent.”

Referring to the BDS claims that they target only areas east of the 1949 Armistice line, the rabbi noted “to the world, a boycott is a boycott, east of the Green Line or west of it. Approving one leads to the other. Boycotting Israel will spur future boycotting of those ‘bad’ Jews, for example, in Brooklyn or London.”

The rabbi added that the boycotting groups “never boycott Arab or Muslim businesses, despite the ubiquitous terrorism coming from PA neighborhoods and their violations of human rights. Their outrage is only against the Jewish state and its Jews.”

“Do not stand idly by the blood of your brother”

Showing the widespread fallout the groups’ opposition to the parade may bring about, Rabbi Elie Abadie has threatened to pull the support and float of his Edmond J. Safra Synagogue. He also represents the Moise Safra Community Synagogue, Congregation Magen David of Manhattan, and the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan.

Rabbi Abadie warned he would be “urging every rabbi and leader of every Sephardic organization—as well as many others—in our community” to boycott the parade if the BDS groups were not pulled.

The rabbi decried the BDS-supporters for harming a fellow Jew’s ability to earn a livelihood, citing the Jewish legal precept from the Torah “not to stand idly by the blood of your brother.”

Holocausts ‘always start with boycotts’

“We’re urging the UJA-Federation (lead sponsors of the parade) to pass guidelines that will stop BDS groups from being hosted and promoted by their beneficiary agencies,” said Richard Allen, head of, a group whose mission is “to hold Jewish communal groups accountable.”

Hinting at the serious implications of BDS, Allen presented a photograph from April 1, 1933, showing Nazi storm troopers outside a store in Berlin with signs reading “Do Not Buy from Jews.” Allen noted “it always starts with boycotts.”

“It remains just as evil today, even when done by Jews, often in conjunction with non-Jewish anti-Semites and others who stand against the Jewish state,” added Allen.

Money behind inclusion of “detestable” groups

Jeff Wiesenfeld, a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) which organizes the parade, revealed the decision process that led to the groups’ inclusion.

While a majority of JCRC’s leadership would have opposed the “detestable” BDS groups, according to Wiesenfeld, “there was no debate. It was a decision handed down from ‘above’ because, I think, it was determined that, financially, the UJA stood to lose more from the left if the BDS groups were excluded than they would gain from the right.”

By including the BDS groups, and thereby granting “cover and legitimacy to those who defame Israel as a warm criminal or who seek to harm Israel economically or otherwise,” JCRC is “failing in its duty,” according to Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton Klein.

Klein stressed that “Jews have a perfect right to live and build homes in Judea and Samaria, the Biblical and legal home of the Jewish people.” Instead of boycotting Israel, Klein suggested focusing “on the real obstacle to peace, the Palestinian Authority (PA).”

To boycott the boycotters

Organizers of the rally against the BDS groups’ inclusion call on those who cannot attend the protest rally, which will be held on Tuesday, April 8, between 4:00-7:00 pm, outside the UJA-Federation headquarters at 130 E. 59th St. in Manhattan, to send protest letters to the UJA and JCRC.

Peter Kohlmann, executive producer of the parade can be reached at 212-983-4800 ext 162 (, while Michael Mittelman, director of the parade, can be reached at 212-983-4800 ext 487 (

“Let the directors of the UJA and other Jewish organizations know of your concerns,” called Rabbi Spero. “Real Jewish leaders should not be indifferent, silent, nor lend support to boycotters and others wishing to tear us down.”

The rabbi added “directors of our Jewish organizations proved their fallibility during the 1930s and ‘40s, teaching us that blind obedience is foolish and leaving our destiny and safety to those who claim they ‘know best’ can be devastating. This time in history, we must not make the same mistake.”


Sunday, April 6th, 2014

by Tova Dvorin (Arutz Sheva News)

Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett published a manifesto on Sunday morning explaining why he believes that the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s application to international organizations for legitimacy will not do much harm to Israel – and, according to him, is really bound to hurt the PA itself.

“Every year we renew a ‘festival of threats’: if we don’t do what the PA wants, they will go to the UN, they will turn into a country and slam us at the Hague,” Bennett wrote. “This is their ‘judgement day’ weapon. A Defense Minister once gave it this name: the ‘political tsunami.”

“But it’s time to change this concept,” he declared. “This is not the PA’s ‘judgement day’ weapon. The rifle is empty.”

“There is good reason why the Palestinians are not members of the Hague, and not members of the UN,” he continued. “There is a reason why the gun is almost empty. What should be done about this threat? Understand what it is, stop being afraid – and, of course, act on it.”

Bennett noted that threats against Israel at the Hague may look menacing on paper, but will probably not change much in reality.

“A lawsuit against us in the Hague will have Israel join the ranks of other distinguished countries brought to court there, such as the US and UK, and no one is telling London to withdraw from their land over it,” he stated.

If anything, according to Bennett, “Israel and other countries should bring the PA to the Hague over war crimes.”

Fatah, Hamas – It’s All the Same

“There are two reasons for this: first – the PA’s killing and terror against innocent people,” he continued. “The Palestinians deliberately fired thousands of rockets at schools, hospitals and kindergartens. Shooting to harm civilians is clearly a war crime.”

Bennett also shot down possible counter-arguments to this, including the claim that the PA and Hamas are utterly unconnected.

“The PA leadership in Ramallah will tell them that it is Hamas who shoots at civilians, not them,” he said. “But this is like saying that it is [Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's party - ed.] HaTnua that is conducting negotiations with the PA, not the State of Israel. ”

“Hamas is a political movement operating under the PA umbrella in Gaza,” he fired. “[PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas transfers funds every month from the PA to Gaza for ‘public servants’ there.”

“He believes that Gaza is part of the same ‘Palestine’ that he asks the UN to unilaterally establish. Therefore, he is responsible for Hamas’s war crimes.”

Incitement Kills

The second accusation Israel should launch against the PA, according to Bennett, is over its ongoing incitement against Israel.

“Every month the PA issues stipends to murders of women and children that Israel released [as part of preconditions to negotiations - ed.], as well as to those who are still in prison” Bennett noted. “They tell murderers: go kill a Jew and instead of receiving compensation now, you’ll receive compensation later.”

“This is encouraging terror. This is incitement.”

Last month, the PA allocated another $74 million to the families of terrorist ‘mayrtrs,’ despite suffering from 4.8 billion dollars in debt.

The pledge was announced just a few weeks after news surfaced that a man had killed several Jewish Israelis for financial reasons, using the stipend money as an incentive to fund his own wedding.

The Israeli government only recently released its annual “Palestinian Incitement Index”, which showed that incitement against Israel and the Jewish people is continuing on official media channels including – inter alia – by bodies that are very close to the PA Chairman and in educational and religious networks.

Such incitement ranges from the glorification of Nazism and the lionization of Adolf Hitler, to programs on official PA television featuring heavily-stereotyped Jews as villains (and encouraging violence against them), and various TV and radio shows which literally wipe the Jewish state off the map.

‘The Only Fear is Fear Itself’

Bennett concluded by noting that the only danger Israel faces by the PA going to the UN is self-inflicted.

“Threats of the PA going to the UN are groundless,” Bennett stated. “But the fear of it in itself has allowed the PA to continue blackmailing us at a heavy price.”

“It’s time to stop the cycle of blackmail,” he continued. “The only nation to be damaged from the PA’s application to the UN will be the PA itself.”


Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Ari Yashar (IsraelNationalNews)

A senior source in the Palestinian Authority (PA) claimed on Wednesday that the organization wanted US Secretary of State to continue the peace talks, despite PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s breach of talk conditions Tuesday by requesting to join 15 international UN institutions.

“We hope Kerry’s efforts will be renewed in the coming days,” Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) secretary general Yasser Abed Rabbo told AFP.

Rabbo claimed that “Kerry knows the reality. We don’t want these efforts to finish.” The official stated that the PA would remain in the peace talks, which are set to last until April 29.

“The Palestinian leadership respects its commitments and wants the political process to continue, but we want a real political process, without tricks,” claimed Rabbo. “We will continue our efforts with the US administration, and will do everything we can to remove all obstacles.”

Despite the talk of tricks, a PA official two weeks ago revealed that UN status was being used as a “weapon” to “blackmail” Israel into releasing terrorists. PLO Official Nabil Sha’ath revealed last November that the PA is only staying in the peace talks to secure the release of all 104 promised terrorists.

In response to Abbas’s breach of the peace talk conditions, Kerry cancelled a planned meeting with Abbas in Ramallah for Wednesday.

However, Kerry insisted that it was too early to tell if the peace talks were over, stating “it is completely premature tonight to draw…any final judgement about today’s events and where things are.” Kerry added “President Abbas has given me his word that he will continue to negotiate until the end of April.”

“Israel to blame”

Rabbo held Israel solely to blame for the latest crisis in the peace talks, claiming Israel didn’t release the fourth and final batch of prisoners last Saturday “without any reason or even any excuse for not doing so.”

Israel at least temporarily cancelled the terrorist release, given the widespread protest to the highly unpopular move and the lack of progress in the talks. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hinted to Kerry that if the release happened it threatened toppling his government.

As noted, aside from the unpopularity of the move, the total lack of progress in talks was cited as a reason for the cancellation, given that the “gesture” was meant to encourage talks and was dependent on their progress. Abbas has brought the talks to a standstill by consistently refusing to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

Rabbo himself threatened last week that if Israel did not release the terrorists, the PA would turn to the UN for international recognition this week.


Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

by Tova Dvorin (IsraelNationalNews)

US Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel Tuesday morning without meeting personally with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, leaving analysts scrambling to figure out what it all means for the future of talks.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has scrambled to save talks in the wake of Israel’s standing firm to prevent more terrorists to be released, making last-minute meetings with both Abbas and Netanyahu Monday night.

But as AFP reported earlier Tuesday, Kerry’s meetings with Abbas were cancelled Monday when a meeting with Netanyahu dragged on too late. He met instead with PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat. He will be back, however, on Wednesday to complete the talks.

“Kerry will fly to Europe today for previous engagements and will come back to meet the president tomorrow at noon.

Ongoing controversy over the talks stems around the fourth batch of terrorist releases, as MKs point out that the previous releases have done nothing to further talks, and that several of the released terrorists have contributed to the increase in terror attacks over the past year.

Erekat himself stated last month that Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the terrorist releases, prompting Israeli officials to reconsider completing the deal – which has always been contingent on real progress in the talks.

In response, Israel told PA officials over the weekend that the deal was postponed, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the release would “topple the government” due to public and political backlash.

In the meantime, the White House also offered to release US captive Jonathan Pollard in exchange for releasing more terrorists, enacting a construction freeze, and keeping talks going, but there is no word yet on whether the proposal was accepted.

The PA has already formally refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state throughout talks, stating that “the Arab states will never recognize a Jewish state.” In addition, the PA Chairman will reportedly only agree to extend talks if Israel allows a “right of return” for Palestinian Arabs, free terrorist leaders, and withdraw from Judea and Samaria.

Abbas has repeatedly said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel.


Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

by Uzi Baruch (Arutz Sheva News)

An Israeli official has confirmed to Arutz Sheva that a deal to secure Jonathan Pollard’s release over the next two weeks has crystallized, in a bid to exchange him with over 400 Palestinian Arab terrorists – arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti among them.

While both the US and Israel have now admitted that Pollard’s release is on the table, the State of Israel itself has not officially announced that it is accepting the proposal. If true, however, Pollard would be released just prior to the Pesach (Passover) holiday – the Jewish holiday of freedom and redemption.

The exchange will also include a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, as well as Jerusalem, according to the source.

“It won’t be a complete freeze,” the source stated. “Tenders and projects already being built will continue, as well as government and public buildings in Jerusalem.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly refused to a full construction freeze, and will only halt construction for government buildings in Judea and Samaria. According to Channel 2, he is in the midst of updating senior ministers on the status of the deal.

IDF Radio reports Tuesday afternoon that there is an additional concession: both sides must remain in peace talks well into 2015.

Last-minute change

The news contradicts reports earlier this week, when the White House restated Wednesday that it has no intentions to free Pollard, after reports suggested the US was offering to release him in order to pressure Israel into going through with the last terrorist release and continuing peace talks. The report Monday night by the Reuters news agency was denied by the White House, which said that “nothing had changed” in its refusal to pardon Pollard.

Now, all that has changed, after US Secretary of State John Kerry made an emergency visit to Israel over the failure of talks.

Jonathan Pollard has recently been subject of a high-profile campaign for his release. He is now in his 29th year of incarceration in a US jail for passing classified security-related information from America to Israel. He was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 and has been held ever since, in harsh and sometimes inhuman conditions.

Pollard was arrested on charges far less serious than those that landed other spies in jail, yet those spies served a few years’s jail time at most, critics noted, and slammed the US for “hypocrisy.”

Over 106 MKs attended a special Knesset session in December to protest US President Barack Obama’s refusal to release the prisoner, and signed a petition urging the President to reconsider.

Several top US officials, including Former Deputy National Security advisor Elliott Abrams, United States Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Jonathan Pollard affair Lawrence Korb, and former CIA chief James Woolsey have also called for Pollard to be released. Former captive Gilad Shalit reiterated those calls in an emotional plea Monday morning.


Monday, March 31st, 2014

by Yaakov Levi Bennett (Arutz Sheva News)

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett said Sunday that he was ready to call Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’ bluff on his threats to take his case to international tribunals, unless Israel does what he, Abbas, wants. “Is he doing us a favor by continuing negotiations with us? If he doesn’t want to negotiate, that’s fine. And if there are no talks he plans to complain to the United Nations? Let him – he will be the one that gets hurt.”

Abbas cannot afford to antagonize Israel too much, said Bennett. “There are many death warrants on the heads of Fatah leaders” at the hands of Hamas and other terrorists. “He has no economy, he has no security. If the IDF abandons him he is finished. I would recommend to him that he not make such threats.”

Abbas last week threatened that if Israel did not release the final batch of terrorists on time, he would “turn to the UN’s international organizations.” The release of the prisoners is in return for the freeze on seeking membership in international organizations,” Abbas said. “If Israel were to refuse to free the fourth batch it would have serious consequences, including initiatives at the United Nations,” threatened former PA negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh.

Israel agreed to release about 100 terrorists last summer, as a “concession” to persuade Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace talks after a three year hiatus. The last batch was set to be released Saturday night, but Netanyahu, apparently under pressure from his ministers, has postponed the release.

One way to keep the talks going, the PA said, was for Israel to release even more terrorists. On Saturday, the PA claimed that Israel had offered to release 400 terrorists from its prisons so that peace talks continue. But to Bennett, the idea of releasing any more terrorists is ridiculous. “Why would we release 400 more prisoners? To continue talks? This is not going to happen, I have discussed this with other ministers and I do not see any chance of this passing the government. We in Jewish Home will do everything we can to prevent this,” he added.

And if Israel’s refusal means that Abbas will “go to the UN,” so be it, said Bennett. “Let him do it already. We will know how to deal with it. If he wants to establish the Palestinian state as a viable one he will have a lot of problems. He doesn’t even have borders, let alone security, government, or independent rule. If it doesn’t look like a state and doesn’t sound like a state, it’s not a state, regardless of what they will say in the UN.”

Regarding the current release that was postponed from Saturday night, Bennett said that Jewish Home opposed it, but the government approved the release. He himself had spoken to Netanyahu on the talks with the PA, telling the Prime Minister that as Abbas has said that he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, there was no point in continuing with the negotiations – or releasing more terrorists.


Sunday, March 30th, 2014

by Jonathan Spyer

It has become a commonplace to claim that the unrest in the Arab world is challenging the state borders laid down in the Arab world following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.

This claim, however, is only very partially valid. It holds true in a specific section of the Middle East, namely the contiguous land area stretching from Iran’s western borders to the Mediterranean Sea, and taking in the states currently known as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
In this area, a single sectarian war is currently taking place. The nominal governments in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut may claim to rule in the name of the Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese peoples. But the reality of power distribution in each of these areas shows something quite different.

In each of these areas, local, long suppressed differences between communities are combining with the region-wide cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia to produce conflict, discord and latent or open civil war.

In each case, sectarian forces are linking up with their fellow sect members (or co-ethnics, if that’s a word, in the case of the Kurds) in the neighboring “country” against local representatives of the rival sect.

Let’s take a look at the rival coalitions. These are not simply theoretical constructs. The cooperation between the relevant sides is largely overt, and has been extensively verified. On one side, there are the Shia (and Alawi) allies of Iran. These are the Maliki government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and Hizbullah, the Iranian proxy force which dominates Lebanon.

Both Hizbullah and the Maliki government, at the behest of Iran, have played a vital role in the survival of Bashar Assad and his current resurgence. Hizbullah’s role is well-documented. The movement maintains around 5,000 fighters at any one time in Syria. They have just completed a spearhead role in a nearly year long campaign to drive the rebels from the area adjoining the Lebanese border. They are also deployed in Damascus.

Assad’s Achilles heel throughout has been the lack of committed fighters willing to engage on his behalf. Hizbullah, working closely with Iran, has played a vital role in filling that gap.

In addition, Hizbullah is working hard to suppress any Sunni thoughts of insurrection in Lebanon itself. Its forces cooperated with the Lebanese Army in crushing Sunni Islamists in Sidon in June, 2013. It also offers support to Alawi elements engaged in a long running mini-war with pro-Syrian rebel Sunnis in the city of Tripoli. Maliki’s role on behalf of Assad is less well-reported but no less striking. It is first of all worth remembering that the Iraqi Prime Minister spent from 1982-90 in exile in Iran, and his political roots and allegiances are, unambiguously, to Shia Islamism.

Regular overflights and ground convoys have used Iraqi territory since the start of the Syrian civil war to carry vital Iranian arms and supplies from Iran to Assad’s forces in Syria.

A western intelligence report obtained by Reuters in late 2012 confirmed this, noting that “planes are flying from Iran to Syria via Iraq on an almost daily basis, carrying IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel and tens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting against the rebels.”

It also asserted that Iran was “continuing to assist the regime in Damascus by sending trucks overland via Iraq” to Syria. In addition, Iraqi Shia volunteers from the Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigades and other formations have helped to fill Bashar’s gap in available and committed infantry. The Maliki government has made no effort to stop the flow of such fighters across the border – even as it engages in a U.S.-supported counter insurgency against Sunni jihadis in western Anbar province in Iraq.

So the Iran-led regional bloc is running a well-coordinated, well-documented single war in three countries. The Sunni Arab side of the line is predictably more chaotic and disunited. On this side, too, there are discernible links, but no single, clear alliance. Unlike among the pro-Iran bloc, only the most radical fringe of the Sunnis cross the borders to engage in combat. There is no Sunni equivalent to the Quds Force cadres active in Syria and Lebanon. Among the Sunni radicals, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group now controls a single contiguous area stretching from eastern Syria to western Anbar province in Iraq, and taking in Fallujah city in Iraq.

Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda, is now active also in Lebanon. It has on a number of occasions penetrated Hizbullah’s security sanctum in the Dahiyeh neighborhood of south Beirut.

More broadly, Saudi Arabia is the patron of the Sunni interest in both Lebanon and Syria. It is currently backing rebel forces in the south of Syria, and pro-Saudis dominate the Syrian National Coalition, which purports to be the political leadership of the rebellion. It also supports and promotes the March 14th movement in Lebanon, and recently pledged $3 billion for the Lebanese Armed Forces – presumably in a bid to build a force that could balance Hizbullah.

But both Qatar and Turkey also play an important role in backing the Syrian rebels, and have their own clients among the fighting groups.
Saudi and Turkish fear and distrust of radical Sunni Islamist fighting groups prevent the emergence of a clear “Sunni Islamist international” to rival the Shia international of Iran.

Still, it is undeniable that cooperation exists among the various Sunni forces in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

It’s just that it’s a complicated and sometimes chaotic criss-crossing of various rival interests and outlooks on the Sunni side, rather than a coherent single bloc. And finally, of course, there is a single contiguous area of Kurdish control stretching from the Iraq-Iran border all the way to deep within Syria. This zone of control is divided between the Iraqi Kurds of the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Syrian Kurds of the rival, PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Once again, it is a contiguous area of control based on ethnic affiliation.
None of this means that the official borders of these three countries are going to officially disappear in the immediate future. The U.S. administration and others are committed to their survival, so they are likely to survive for now, in the semi-fictional and porous state in which they currently exist. This, however, should not obscure the more crucial point that the entire area between the Iraq-Iran border and the Mediterranean Sea is currently the site of a single war, following a single dynamic, fought between protagonists defined by ethnic and sectarian loyalty.

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Web Site Designed and Hosted by Ceronex