Qatar Reportedly Mediating Israel-Hamas Prisoner Swap

Today’s Top Stories

1. According to an Arab media report picked up by YNet and the Jerusalem Post, Qatar is mediating an Israel-Hamas prisoner swap:

According to the report, Israel agreed to conditions proposed by Hamas to release prisoners who were previously released in the Gilad Schalit deal, on condition that they be deported to Gaza or Qatar. The prisoners released in the Schalit deal were subsequently re-arrested during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

 

Hamas reportedly refused to sign the agreement, over refusal to abide by the deportation stipulation.

us-flag2. Could a compromise on relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem be in the works? According to Israeli media reports, the US might arrange for ambassador-to-be David Friedman to work in the current American consulate in Jerusalem while keeping the embassy itself in Tel Aviv.

But CNN reported that the Trump administration has already notified allies it is proceeding with plans to move the embassy.

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3. German university suspended a pro-BDS professor allegedly involved in anti-Semitic activities.

Israel and the Palestinians

• British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson confirmed the UK played a key role in drafting UN resolution 2334, which was sharply critical of Israeli settlements.

“I remind the House that the UK was closely involved in its drafting, although of course it was an Egyptian-generated resolution,” Johnson said on Tuesday, according to a transcript of the proceedings. “We supported it only because it contained new language pointing out the infamy of terrorism that Israel suffers every day, not least on Sunday, when there was an attack in Jerusalem.”

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

• Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s highest spiritual authority, reversed a ruling permitting Palestinian suicide attacks. But Hamas has dismissed the fatwa. The Times of Israel examines the issue.

But in November, the Egyptian cleric publicly declared suicide attacks, even against Israelis, were no longer allowed. Explaining the reversal, he said the Palestinians had obtained “other capabilities” to defend themselves — an apparent reference to Hamas’s rocket arsenals, used against Israel to devastating effect in recent rounds of conflict . . .

 

In an interview with Washington, DC-based Al-Monitor published December 20, Husam Badran, a Qatar-based spokesman for Hamas and former commander of Hamas’ military wing in the northern West Bank, stated explicitly that the terror group would not accept Qaradawi’s ruling.

 

“Hamas did not stop the suicide bombings against Israel. Our [decisions] are not dependent on Qaradawi’s fatwas. Rather, we consider martyrdom operations a strategic weapon for responding to the Israeli occupation’s crimes, which include assassinations and massacres, and we proceed with our policy based on Sharia principles. We have a great religious legacy that allows us to carry out such operations, but these operations depend on military conditions on the ground,” he told Al-Monitor.

• Worth watching: Israeli journalist Ami Horowitz rode around the West Bank to get a better sense of Palestinian freedom of travel. He didn’t find any “web of checkpoints” or assaults on Palestinian dignity.

• How much do settlements really cost Israel? Globes takes a closer look at government figures. That’s no simple matter, because, “Israel has no separate budget for expenditure beyond the Green Line, so the answer depends on whom you talk to.”

Jerusalem Post: Days after South African President Jacob Zuma urged people not to visit Israel, opposition leader Mmusi Maimane did the opposite. Maimane is expected to meet with senior Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

• Israel’s war on Palestinian weapon factories is yielding results. According to YNet, “As security forces step up efforts to crack down on illicit weapons industry in the West Bank, demand outweighs supply, forcing huge leap in prices.”

• Tweet of the day, from Khaled Abu Toameh:

• Bill banning boycotters from Israel advances in Knesset.

• Now that Israel and Turkey have re-normalized relations, the two countries are drafting a road map of cooperation. Hurriyet News reports that the plan emphasizes stepping up ties in the areas of tourism, economy and security.

Commentary/Analysis

• Bret Stephens weighs in on Palestinian statehood and Sunday’s Paris peace conference in a Wall St. Journal video.

• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .

Oren Safdie: So now all of a sudden I’m a Jewish ‘settler’ according to Obama?
Prof. Eyal Zisser: Relocating the US embassy: A necessary, natural move
Pinhas Inbari: Was ISIS behind Jerusalem terror attack?
Brendan O’Neill: If slagging off MPs over drinks is a sinister plot, I’ve been behind hundreds
Asaf Romirowsky: Anti-Semitism only on our terms
Amb. Alan Baker: Debunking 11 more false assumptions regarding Israel
New York Post (staff-ed): Latest terror attack exposes the real barrier to Mideast peace
Majid Rafizadeh: Iran steps up threats to Israel, US

 

Featured image: CC BY dulnan; flag CC BY-NC-ND Whatknot; Qaradawi via YouTube/Havre De Savoir;

 

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream and join the IDNS on Facebook.

 

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