Remember Me



The Hamas plan


Seven Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank early Tuesday as the manhunt for the shooter in the deadly Barkan Industrial Park attack entered its third day, the IDF said. Overnight, Israeli security forces continued operations in the village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem, the home of Ashraf Na'alweh, 23, who is suspected of killing his coworkers Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, and wounding Sara Vaturi, 54, using a locally produced Carlo-style submachine gun. Na'alweh's mother and sisters were detained and brought in for questioning in the pre-dawn raid, but were later released, according to the Shin Bet. After carrying out the shooting, the suspect fled the scene, prompting a large-scale search of the area and a deployment of additional troops to the West Bank to prevent copycat attacks, the army said. No details were provided by authorities Tuesday morning on the progress of the manhunt for Na'alweh. Officials reportedly believe that Na'alweh, who is said to have left a suicide note before the attack, is preparing to engage troops who close in on him in a firefight that could turn deadly.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority security forces have been helping Israel in its search for the suspect, a Palestinian security official confirmed. "We are helping the Israeli side locate him," a Palestinian security official told The Times of Israel, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "The main way we are helping is in providing them with information." Ynet had reported on Sunday that PA security forces were participating in efforts to find Na'alweh. The Palestinian security official said the PA has been helping Israel because it "does not support violent acts and wants to maintain security and stability" in the West Bank. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the branch of the Defense Ministry responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The PA has been heavily criticized by Palestinians for cooperating with Israel on security. Polls have shown that a majority of Palestinians support an end to security cooperation between the PA and Israel. Sixty-eight percent of Palestinians said they support the Palestinian Central Council's decision to end security coordination with Israel, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in September found.

The chase makes the front page of all three major Hebrew-language newspapers. Yedioth Ahronoth (front page headline "turning over every stone") reports that Na'alweh is armed and dangerous, and says the hunt is "unprecedented." "The IDF and the Shin Bet estimate that his capture is only a matter of time, given that he cannot survive for long on the run and as far as is known he did not plan ahead of time to escape the attack alive," the paper reports. Israel Hayom's top story focuses on an even more heartbreaking search under the headline "Kai is looking for Mommy," referring to the 16-month-old son of Kim Yehezkel, one of the Barkan attack victims. "Kai does not understand, he is looking for his mother and we do not know what to tell him," Yehezkel's older brother Schachar tells the paper. In a separate operation in the village of Beit Sira near Ramallah in pursuit of a terror financing ring, IDF troops overnight uncovered thousands of shekels in cash that the army said were meant to fund "terror networks" in the West Bank.

Gaza is continuing to heat up, with Monday night seeing a large protest that included several Palestinians busting across the border fence and setting an IDF post alight. While Palestinians occasionally sneak across the border, this incident was of a more riotous nature, and was captured on video, garnering fairly major coverage and sparking a fair amount of hand-wringing. "How much is Israel deterred from acting against Hamas," Noam Amir, military correspondent for the right-wing Channel 20, asks on Twitter, sharing the video. "In the past something like this would have ended with a significant attack on Hamas. There is no response, and no media coverage." Walla correspondent Amir Buhbot writes that "the videos will encourage more terror." Monday night also saw a fairly large fire started in a nature reserve near the Gaza border from a suspected balloon launched by Palestinians.

In breaking news by Haaretz, diesel fuel funded by Qatar has begun arriving in the Gaza Strip though the Keren Shalom border crossing with Israel on Tuesday, Palestinian sources in Gaza reported. According to the reports, two trucks carrying a total of 35,000 liters (9,200 gallons) of fuel arrived at the border crossing in the company of United Nations vehicles. Israel confirmed the delivery of several diesel drums through the Kerem Shalon crossing. It is not clear whether the supply of the fuel is being provided with the approval of the Palestinian Authority, which was ousted from Gaza by Hamas in 2007. Despite the Israeli security establishment warning against moving forward without 'Abbas's involvement, it supported the fuel transfer. This was in light of the humanitarian condition in Gaza, which was deemed too fragile to risk, with diesel fuel being essential to power vital to infrastructures and electricity.

On Tuesday, the Qatari-sponsored London daily al-Arabi al-Jadeed reported that Egyptian intelligence chief 'Abbas Kamel will visit Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Amman in the coming days as part of a tour meant to promote a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Kamel is set to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas, the report said, and convey a conclusive message from Egyptian President 'Abdelfattah as-Sissi that he must cooperate with efforts to move towards calm and rehabilitation in the Gaza Strip, as well as advancing a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Otherwise Egypt will withdraw as mediator and sponsor of the negotiations and will work exclusively with Hamas as sovereign of Gaza, and the one responsible for the Strip's border with Sinai. It was also reported that Kamel will present 'Abbas with the terms consolidated with Hamas leadership during their visit to Cairo last week. He will also ask for Jordan to support Egypt's efforts, as Amman still back 'Abbas' stance. 'Abbas opposes any concessions or assistance to the Strip without the supervision and cooperation of the PA, which he stipulates on Hamas relinquishing control of Gaza.

Elsewhere, Russia provided the advanced S-300 air defense system to Syria's military free of charge, transferring three battalions with eight launchers each to the Assad regime, Russia's state news agency TASS reported Monday. "On October 1, three battalion sets of S-300PM systems of eight launchers each were delivered to Syria," a military source told the agency. "These systems were previously deployed at one of the Russian aerospace forces' regiments which now uses the S-400 Triumf systems. The S-300 systems underwent capital repairs at Russian defense enterprises, are in good condition and are capable of performing combat tasks," he said. The source added that the systems were provided free of charge, along with 100 surface-to-air guided missiles for each battalion, 300 in all.

Another story dominating the Israeli press this morning is a New York Times report detailing Israeli firm Psy-Group's offer to employ dirty tricks for Trump's presidential campaign. Though it appears the proposal was never accepted, the story sheds a bit of light on a shady Israeli industry, as well as on the kind of tactics the Trump campaign was considering. While some Israeli stories focus on the social media campaign, most lead with the spying allegations. "Is there an Israeli firm that spied for Trump?" reads a headline on Hadashot's website.

Haaretz reports that Hebrew University's senate is asking to join an appeal by American student Lara Alqasem, who is seeking to be allowed into the country to study, despite claims by the government that she supports the BDS movement. The university is "a place for the exchange of ideas and the acquisition and creation of knowledge. It is a place that does not shrink from disagreement and is pleased with a multiplicity of opinions. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan's decision not to allow the student into the country merely because of her opinions constitutes a threat to what the university represents," the paper quotes a statement from the senate. Erdan responded by calling it "another politicization of Israeli academia for the sake of someone who actively works to harm the State and its citizens."

Finally, a day after a report by the world's top climate experts warned that the earth is doomed without drastic action now, the Israeli press finally takes a bit of note, though not much. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Israeli climate experts say the country will not be immune from the changes and may even feel it more than other places. "Israel is on the coast and on the edge of the desert. Any scenario with a rise in sea level will influence us greatly," expert Aryeh Wenger says. Alon Tal, another expert, says that many changes are already here: "According to the models we can expect the winter to shorten by two months. That is a worrying forecast and we can already start to feel it. Where is the fall? Every year, the rains are delayed. It is becoming chronic." Meanwhile, Tal will be happy to know that Tuesday is expected to see a drop in temperatures and yes, even some of that sweet rain. "Where did you put the umbrella? The weather will finally line up with the season," reads a headline on the Walla website. The site notes, though, that the rain will be scattered, and quite light.



ISRAEL HAS THE RIGHT TO BAR LARA ALQASEM'S ENTRY: Yoaz Hendel in Yedioth Ahronoth states that Alqasem lied to get a visa. In Europe and the U.S., she would be deported immediately, without being allowed to hold a media festival while in detention.

"Israel is the world's largest tourist site for human rights activists. The only experimental laboratory where one can enjoy Western conditions and democratic freedom, while protesting against the government. Human rights activists cannot arrive in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand, and even Moscow and feel safe. Here they can. Drink beer at night in Tel Aviv, in the morning demonstrate at a checkpoint against IDF soldiers.

It is not clear how the undesirable romance with Lara Alqasem will end. She is an American student, a boycott activist who wishes to enter the country. One of the options raised last night is to allow her to enter if she declares that she opposes boycotts of Israel and will not act against the security forces. The second option is to deport her after the petitions against her deportation are rejected.

It does not matter where Alqasem finds herself in a week. What does matter is the recurrent double standards when dealing with Israeli interests. To illustrate the house of cards that was built around Alqasem, imagine an Israeli student who heads an organization that calls for boycotting the United States or demonstrates against its representatives in Israel for several months. He comes to the American embassy to obtain a visa, hides this detail and receives a tourist visa. And then, when he arrives in the United States, it is discovered. What will the American authorities do? There is not one reader who does not know the answer.

The United States, Alqasem's homeland, prevents the entry of thousands of Israelis due to criminal records, tax offenses, lies detected in obtaining a visa, unusual political activity or any suspicion relating to state security. Even former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana was recently denied entry because he visited countries that support terrorism (a regulation from the days of Obama). Maccabi Haifa basketball player Roman Sorkin was forced to return to Israel immediately after landing in the United States with his team because American border police felt there was a problem with his visa. A woman who went jogging in Canada and accidentally crossed the border to the United States was arrested for two weeks. All these cases occurred just in the past two months. For years the U.S. and European countries have at times denied entry to their territory only because they do not like the look of a certain person or because he was born in the wrong place.

Israel erred in choosing a free policy until the enactment of the law prohibiting boycott activists from entering Israel. Anyone who harms the security or economy of the State of Israel has no business receiving an entry permit. It is worth refuting the lies being told since Lara Alqasem arrived here. We are dealing with a student who at the University of Florida was president of an organization called Students for Justice in Palestine; one of about 20 organizations that are barred from entering Israel. Alqasem lied when she concealed this fact during the process of obtaining a visa. This would have been enough to deny her entry into half the countries of Europe and the U.S. She lied or 'changed versions' between border control and the beginning of her court hearing. She erased her Twitter and Facebook accounts from her rough airport 'detention cell'. By the way, her supporters are lying when they state she is being detained here. Making up a fake story. At any given moment she can board a plane back to the U.S., at the expense of the airline.

The difference between Israel and the U.S. is that there they would not have allowed her to hold such a festival at an airport detention facility. The expulsion would have taken place immediately. And by the way, anyone expelled from the U.S. is granted the right to appeal – from home. To express 'remorse' or ask for forgiveness. A Waiver Request. It takes time, a lot of paperwork. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but it is never done in the midst of a media festival.

Make no mistake: The argument is about a principle. Is it permissible for Israel, like all nations, to prevent entry into its territory? Yes, even to someone who received a visa by mistake, or through submitting misleading data. Is it permissible to prevent entry to anyone who calls for harming the state's economy or diplomatic standing, and not only its security status; or who is active in an organization that is defined in some of the lists as anti-Semitic? Lara Alqasem is only the allegory. The moral is the refusal to see Israel as a country that has the right to refuse."



RUSSIA AND IRAN STRATEGIC ALLIES: Eyal Zisser in Israel Hayom argues that Putin and Netanyahu's upcoming meeting is crucial for future relations. Israel must remember that Iran and Russia have a mutual opponent – Israel's staunchest supporter, the U.S.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming meeting with President Vladimir Putin, which was announced at the last cabinet meeting, will be one of the most important meetings the two have held in recent years. On the agenda will be not only the question of ensuring Israel's continued freedom of action in Syria, but also the future of relations between the two countries after getting embroiled in a deep crisis following the downing of the Russian aircraft by Syrian air defenses.

Reports of the meeting in the Arab press added that Russia offered to mediate between Israel and Iran in order to reduce the tension between the two foes, and perhaps reach understandings and draw red lines regarding Iranian activity in Syria. In so doing, it would be possible to prevent the outbreak of an Israeli-Iranian confrontation, which many consider inevitable and only a matter of time.

It is possible that Moscow has concluded it is satisfied with the punitive measures it imposed on Israel – the reproaching tone and more importantly the delivery of S-300 missiles to Syrian aerial defenses, which are expected to reduce the scope of Israeli action in Syria's skies. Netanyahu and Putin will therefore meet as old friends, but it is important for Israel to learn lessons from the incident and from what transpired after it. The incident was only an excuse for the Russians and a catalyst for implementing steps they intended to take in any case, with the war in Syria nearing its end – both the imposition of restrictions on the Israel air force's freedom of flight and the supply of advanced weapons to the Syrians.

Israel-Russia relations, with the establishment of the state, began with a 'wonderful friendship'. Russia, and not the United States, stood by the recently born country and supplied it with weapons, even if not directly, but through Czechoslovakia. It also permitted the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Eastern European countries who were under its control. Russia, or rather, the Soviet Union, did so not for 'the love of Mordecai', but from hatred of Britain and its allies in the Arab world.

But the Soviet Union quickly changed its course. Israel refused to become a Soviet satellite, as the Russians had hoped, while in Arab countries, such as Egypt and Syria, revolutionary regimes of anti-Western army officers rose. They sought weapons, and the USSR hastened to provide them. Russian weapons helped the Soviet Union gain a stronghold in the Arab world, but contributed to the escalation of tensions between Israel and the Arabs, and eventually led the region to war. That is what happened in 1956, and again in 1967. The inevitable result was the deterioration of relations between Jerusalem and Moscow, until they reached complete disengagement in 1967.

Although the Russian president does not hide his desire to make his country great again, like in the glory days that it knew as a world power, Putin's Russia is not the Soviet Union, certainly as far as Israel is concerned. But many things have remained the same in Moscow. First, the blazing hostility of the political and military bureaucracy toward the West and the U.S. Israel, whether she likes it or not, is perceived in Moscow as part of the Western bloc. Second, the recognition that the sale of advanced weapons was and remains a winning card in the hands of the Russians in their attempts to expand their influence in the world and particularly in the Middle East.

Israel is indeed a country with which Moscow maintains friendly relations, but Iran is the strategic ally with which the Russians are trying to return to the Middle East. Moreover, Iran and Russia have a common foe – the United States. The Israeli interest is to restore the understandings with Moscow, and, more importantly, the friendly relations. At the same time, it is important to understand the challenge that Israel will be faced with again in the future with the Russian. In contrast to Israel's relations with the United States, which are based on the firm support of American public opinion alongside a system of checks between the administration and Congress, ensuring against unexpected fluctuations; in Russia everything begins and ends with the Kremlin."



THE PA CONTINUES TO NURTURE INCITEMENT: Nadav Haetzni in Maariv contends that as long as the PA educates kids in Palestinian kindergartens and schools that Jews are the descendants of Monkeys and Pigs and have no right to live in Barkan and Tel Aviv, terror will continue to strike.

"The Barkan industrial zone is further proof of the folly of conventional wisdom in our political discourse. Barkan is a clear-cut part of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria, deliberately established by the first settlers in Samaria in order to entrench and strengthen the settlements and also to prove that the Jewish return to our homeland is good, among other things, for the Arabs.

This industrial zone and the Jewish settlement blocs scattered around it have every possible virtue. From the point of view of the factories themselves, the location is as central as it gets: A 15-minute drive on the highway from Rosh Ha'ayin, close to the center of the Dan region and accessible to the main traffic arteries. For both Jews and Arabs a clear win-win situation has been created here. For the factories it is a paradise of working hands, with the manpower shortage in many places in Israel not felt here.

The benefits for the Arabs are endless. They do not need entry permits into the Green Line and many of them live in the vicinity. There is no need to get up in the middle of the night and travel to distant places. Such availability of livelihood in the corrupt and failed PA is a daydream. Thousands of Arab families live in dignity only because of the Zionist factories that work here.

The Shomron Regional Council and the Samaria Development Corporation also operate from Barkan and see that communal life is good. Reality also shatters what are considered the accepted views of the Israeli right. That is why Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, promised after the attack that coexistence in Barkan would continue.

Although according to the law in Judea and Samaria it is permissible in certain circumstances to pay Arabs reduced salaries, under Jordanian law, this is not customary at the Barkan factories, as testified by the owners of the Alon Metal factory, where the double murder was carried out on Sunday. Arab workers receive wages and conditions like the Jews, without discrimination. This attitude and its consequences are the norm in other factories in Barkan; it also radiates on the Arab workers, their family members and their surroundings.

The settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria crushes the thought conventions of right and left. The settlements – in Barkan, as in the Gush Etzion junction and in all the employment and commercial centers of Judea and Samaria, have real coexistence. It is not for nothing that the communal life in Barkan is in the sights of various BDS activists.

It is hard to say that it will ever be possible to completely prevent the terrorist acts of lone-wolves such as the terrorist Ashraf Na'alweh, or the terrorist from the Gush Etzion junction two weeks ago. One can only prove that the more Jews there are in Judea and Samaria, and the more they head projects like the Barkan industrial zone, the more hostility will die down. There will be more reasons for Arab society to weed out the murderous weeds that grow within it. But that is not enough.

As long as there exists on the ground an entity that educates the children of the Palestinian kindergartens and schools that we are descendants of monkeys and pigs and have no right to live in Barkan and Tel Aviv, terror will continue and intensify. The Israeli political and security establishment understands that the Arabs must be given incentives to live with us, and that stupid collective punishments should not be applied. But, for some reason, it continues to cultivate the well of incitement that constantly ignites the ever-present terror against our very existence – the Palestinian Authority. Anyone who wants to complete Barkan's coexistence project must, in the same breath, put an end to the entity that murderously and perpetually attempts to undermine it."



MOUNTING DANGER TO GAZA ENVELOPE SETTLEMENTS: Yoni Ben-Menachem on News1 believes Hamas is planning a limited military action in which it will gain control of a number of Israeli settlements and take hostages, in order to break the current deadlock.

"For the past six months, since Land Day on March 30, the communities in the Gaza envelope have been suffering from Hamas' terror by balloons and incendiary kites that have burned large areas of agricultural crops and natural groves. This is in addition to concerns about Hamas' tunnels to penetrate into the settlements and the launching of rockets and mortar shells.

In the past two weeks, Hamas has intensified the level of violence following the impasse in negotiations with Israel and reconciliation talks with Fatah. Every Friday, about 20,000 demonstrators were sent to the border fence. They threw dozens of explosive devices and grenades at IDF soldiers and there has been a significant increase in the launching of incendiary balloons and kites, including balloons carrying explosive charges.

On September 28, Hamas' 'Unit for Nighttime Attrition' published a video in which it called on residents of the Gaza vicinity communities to evacuate their homes every day at 8 PM and return to them only after the unit decides to allow it. The video also said that the unit was planning to throw stink bombs containing toxic substances to spray fields and trees in Israeli territory. The video promised that the unit would launch balloons daily, with shock grenades attached, at the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.

What is even more worrying is the tendency of the terrorist organizations headed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to intensify their attacks on the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip until their future occupation. The manifest expression to make the lives of the residents of the Gaza envelope insufferable, as a counterbalance to the miserable situation of the Strip, was given by the new leader of Islamic Jihad, Ziad Nakhala, in his inaugural speech on October 5, his first since he was elected head of the organization. Nakhala said the following: 'Death is life for our people and for our children; surrender is death. The resistance must take responsibility for this, it has the ability to turn the Gaza envelope and the settlements into a place not worth living in'.

Khaled al-Batsh, a senior Islamic Jihad official and head of the Supreme Command of the March of Return, repeated this in a speech in Gaza on October 5: 'We will not pay the price of the crippling siege imposed on the Strip alone – the enemy is the one who will pay it, the settlers in the Gaza envelope are the ones who will pay'.

Sources in Hamas openly say that the organization's military wing is planning a 'big surprise' for Israel in the Gaza vicinity. According to them, Yahiya as-Sinwar and Muhammad Deif, heads of the organization's military wing, have for several months been planning a surprise attack on the Gaza perimeter communities, during which the elite forces of the military wing will penetrate into Israel through tunnels that have not yet been detected by the IDF; they will occupy settlements and abduct civilians and soldiers through the tunnels into Gaza. The operation will be carried out through a deceptive maneuver in which dozens of military wing operatives will infiltrate Israeli territory on the ground, through the border fence, as a decoy to distract the attention of IDF soldiers.

This is a bold plan meant to blackmail Israel by taking dozens of hostages and forcing it to immediately lift the siege on Gaza. According to Hamas sources, the activists of the nightly attrition unit are acclimatizing the IDF soldiers to their presence on the border fence on a permanent basis, and at the appropriate time they will breach the security fence and smuggle dozens of operatives from the military wing into Israeli territory, in parallel to the penetration through the tunnels.

An open expression of Hamas' operational plan was given by the Gazan political commentator Faiz Abu Shammaleh, who is close to the Hamas leadership. In an interview with a television channel in Gaza on September 16, he warned that if the blockade was not lifted, the Strip would be in a general confrontation with Israel, which would include launching rockets at Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport. He said that the highlight of this military confrontation would be the occupation of 'settlements' in the Gaza envelope and the taking of hostages. 'It will be a surprise for the Israelis and the Israeli army will have to admit that Gaza has changed the equation; the lands of the settlements will be returned to the Palestinians,' Abu Shammaleh bragged.

The Israeli defense establishment is well aware of this plan and is preparing for it. This is one reason why last week Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot ordered large reinforcements to the Gaza perimeter zone. The security cabinet also discussed Hamas' attack intentions and the possibility of evacuating some 30,000 civilians from the communities surrounding the Strip, if need be, in order to remove them from the line of fire. The longer the deadlock continues, the greater the danger that Hamas will carry out its plan in an attempt to break the impasse and gain important bargaining chips with Israel.

Sources in Hamas estimate that if their plan to kidnap civilians and soldiers from the Gaza vicinity communities succeeds, Israel will embark on a major military operation, as it did in the second Lebanon war in 2006 after Hezbollah kidnapped the soldiers Regev and Goldwasser near the Lebanese border. But ultimately Israel will be forced to capitulate and lift the siege of Gaza and release security prisoners in exchange for the release of the Israeli hostages, so Hamas' victory is guaranteed.

It is important at this time to increase vigilance on the border of the Gaza Strip and intelligence monitoring, to identify the intentions of Hamas before it can carry out the plans it has prepared for the communities surrounding the Strip."



CLOSING UNRWA IN EAST JERUSALEM: Nir Hasson in Haaretz explains plans to shut down all UNRWA activities would force Jerusalem to take responsibility for all Palestinians living in the city when it can barely provide necessary services to its Palestinian residents.

"Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has announced a plan to shut the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in East Jerusalem. The agency cast doubt on the legality of such a step in light of Israeli agreements with the United Nations, as doubt also arose whether Barkat can carry out such a step just two months before he leaves office.

If not for the plan's show of force and the mayor's blatant hostility toward the city's Palestinian residents, Barkat's desire to take responsibility for the city's refugee camp residents might be welcomed.

The plan to shut UNRWA was published on Channel 2's Thursday night news edition. Barkat gave an interview as he stood next to UNRWA's warehouses on Ammunition Hill. For understandable reasons he did not give an interview next to UNRWA's main Jerusalem activity center, in the Shuafat refugee camp. The camp, located on the opposite side of a separation barrier, is barely recognized by the city as a neighborhood and the city hardly provides it with any services. It is UNRWA that steps in to provide the camp with education, health and welfare services.

The plan calls for the city, in cooperation with the government, to shut down all UNRWA activities in the city, including its schools – which would involve absorbing their 1,800 pupils into city schools. Mother/child medical services would also be shut down as well as the clinics run by UNRWA, and the buildings where these services operate would be seized. The municipality will seek to take responsibility for welfare services, and to collect the garbage and take care of cleaning up the refugee camp, instead of UNRWA. The plan calls for the city, in cooperation with the government, to shut the UNRWA offices on Ammunition Hill, 'as an illegal organization operating to advance terrorism and incitement,' a statement says. The city's plan to take responsibility for all the Palestinians living in the city, including refugees, might in other circumstances be welcomed, but even with UNRWA in place, the municipality barely supplies the necessary services to its Palestinian residents. The plan calls for the city to increase the number of classrooms available for residents of East Jerusalem, where there is already a shortage in early childcare clinics as well as welfare and sanitation services.

'Instead of establishing infrastructure where needed, Barkat wants to take over existing infrastructure,' says Nisreen Elayan, an attorney who recently worked with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and is knowledgeable about UNRWA's activities in East Jerusalem. 'We are fighting for years with the city to open more mother-child centers in East Jerusalem and it has not done so. So now they are going to take over the good clinics run by UNRWA,' she said.

The city's statement is entitled 'the end of the refugee lie.' Barkat says that the Trump administration's decision to sharply cut UNRWA's budget opens a window of opportunity to force the agency out of Jerusalem. 'Barkat's decision aims to blow up the lie of the Palestinian refugee problem, which is part of the Palestinian Authority's propaganda under UN sponsorship and encouragement, which aims to destroy Israel by eternalizing refugee status and the perpetual call for the right of return to Israel,' the city's statement says. That the city does not regard Shuafat refugee camp as a part of Israel to where the refugees seek to return exposes the truth about the municipality's view of Jerusalem's Palestinian neighborhoods.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, said the agency is worried by Barkat's statement and that UNRWA operates on the basis of agreements still valid between the UN and Israel and General Assembly resolutions. 'The statement (by Barkat) challenges the independent humanitarian, non-discriminatory actions by UNRWA and does not reflect the traditionally positive dialogue between UNRWA and Israel,' he said.

The plan was welcomed by candidates running in the mayoral election, including Ze'ev Elkin who did not notice that it contradicts his plan to separate the neighborhoods beyond the separation fence from the city of Jerusalem. Arieh King, Barkat's rival on the right, said the mayor has published grandiose plans for a 'King's park' in Silwan, and the destruction of dozens of houses in Kafr Aqeb, which were never implemented. 'These are plans for propaganda purposes only,' King said on Twitter.

Attorney Danny Seidemann, an expert on Jerusalem affairs, doubts the plan is legal. 'Barkat can make UNRWA's life difficult but he cannot shut it down. This is a positive influence that does not disturb anyone and supplies good services that the city is not capable of supplying. How can the mayor of Jerusalem declare war on a recognized international establishment that does no damage and is helpful? It is all about theater, pure McCarthyism for the sake of Likud primaries,' Seidemann said."



ENOUGH GRANDSTANDING ON KHAN AL-AHMAR: Defense minister Avigdor Lieberman in The Jerusalem Post argues Khan al-Ahmar is a cluster of makeshift shacks erected illegally by members of the Jahalin Abu-Dahuk Bedouin tribe, which houses some 28 families, comprising about 135 people. Removing it is the right and moral thing to do.

"Once again, the usual international chorus against Israel is flaring up, this time due to an Israeli government decision to implement a judicial ruling for the relocation of a small group of squatters from Khan al-Ahmar, a compound built illegally near Jerusalem. If the matter did not concern the rule of law and the well-being of these people themselves, it could be written off as just another instance of Palestinian and international cynicism. But someone needs to speak up for common sense and reason.

Khan al-Ahmar is a cluster of makeshift shacks erected illegally by members of the Jahalin Abu-Dahuk Bedouin tribe, which houses some 28 families, comprising about 135 people. The compound is situated precariously close to the adjacent highway, presenting an imminent safety hazard to its residents. In particular, the proximity of its makeshift school to the road poses an ongoing threat to the children who attend it. Like other illegal compounds built in a haphazard sprawl, with no basic infrastructure or planning, the living conditions are poor, the health risks many and the future bleak.

The predicament of the residents is actually part of a much broader challenge in ensuring 21st-century health and living standards and infrastructure for nomadic communities, which typically need to be relocated to areas where such infrastructure can be provided reliably and feasibly. This is the case elsewhere in the world where governments must address the needs of such communities. To this end, for many years Israel has engaged in prolonged contact with the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to achieve agreed-upon solutions for their relocation to a nearby area, where their basic needs can be adequately met. This would include the free allocation of generous plots of land, provision of a proper water supply and sewage infrastructure, proper telecommunications and safe electrical connectivity, and the construction of a school.

Unfortunately, swept up in the irresponsibility of a cynical Palestinian leadership, which has seized upon the issue as a gold mine for vilifying Israel, the residents have thus far refused. In doing so, they continue to expose themselves and their children to serious health and safety hazards, preferring continued destitution to achieving a genuine improvement in their situation. European and other countries that have come out against Israel on the matter are doing the residents of Khan al-Ahmar no favor.

As has become too common when it comes to Israel, we again hear tired claims of illegality. Israel's High Court of Justice only recently ruled on the legality of the relocation, after a lengthy legal process in which the residents petitioned the Court. Despite the issue' urgency, successive Israeli governments, in meticulous respect of due process and separation of powers, were blocked for years from implementing governmental policy. This is the very same court that is broadly praised when it comes to relocating Jewish residents from their homes.

As to those who would question the integrity of Israel's judiciary, few accusations are more spurious or more easily refuted. Numerous respected international measures of judicial independence have consistently ranked Israel's judiciary among the most independent in the world, including in comparison to many liberal democracies.

Thus, Israel's fiercely independent and highly respected High Court needs no lectures on jurisprudence from other countries, neither with regard to international law nor otherwise. I can imagine the uproar that would occur if Israel were to similarly question the probity of other countries' internal judicial processes.

Some have argued that relocating the residents to proper homes several kilometers to the West will somehow preclude an eventual political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is high time we replace theatrics with sensible discourse. In this regard, the idea that moving a small group of people within a several kilometer radius will prevent a resolution to such a complex historical conflict is absurd, to say the least. Does Israel need to heed such cynical grandstanding? Do these people really need to pay with their health and lives and futures for it? Not on my watch.

The Israeli government will continue to pursue a real, practical solution to the plight of these people, far too long exploited by an irresponsible Palestinian leadership and its misguided supporters around the world.

As always, the Israeli government will do so while abiding scrupulously by the law and while balancing the different interests at stake, including the genuine needs of the residents themselves. It is the legal thing to do. It is the moral thing to do. And despite the same old international clamor against Israel, it is the right thing to do."