PLO Power Grab Behind Abbas Threats

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Today’s Top Stories

1. Fallout from the Mohammed Morsi’s incitefully anti-Semitic video continues. The White House condemned Morsi’s comments. So did staff-eds in the New York Times and Times of London. The latter rightly argues:

Mr Morsi’s comments are poisonous and deranged, and they exemplify a pathology of political discourse that has not been taken seriously enough by Western diplomacy. It is possible to maintain “cold peace” between Israel and moderate Arab states that encompasses negotiated agreements, such as the Camp David Accord of 1978 and the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty of 1994. But it will never be possible to secure lasting peace or a healthy politics when anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are a staple of public life.

Following up on his story, Forbes investigative journalist Richard Behar writes:

Readers who care about these matters must now hope that the interplay between Washington officials and the White House press corps will reverberate into far better coverage than they’ve seen in the past.

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

2. Jonathan Schanzer makes sense of how to square the circle between Mahmoud Abbas’ recent threats to shut down the PA with the UN statehood boost. Bottom line: It’s a PLO power grab:

The PLO’s official mouthpiece, WAFA, ran a piece on January 5 stating that, “an earlier decision has been reached [by the PLO] to delegate to the [PLO] Central Council the duties of the Palestinian Authority’s government and parliament.”

If this is true (and two senior Palestinian insiders say it is), Abbas appears to be consolidating power by facilitating the transfer of key components of the Palestinian Authority into the hands of the PLO, which is not subject to public scrutiny in the way that the PA has been since its inception in 1994.

Abbas would never frame it this way, of course. He would claim that he seeks to shut down the PA in the face of continued Israeli settlement construction.

3. AP: UN atomic investigators and Iran opened a new round of talks. The main bone of contention?

The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency wants to revisit Parchin, a military site southeast of Tehran, to probe allegations that Iran may have tested components needed to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran has steadfastly denied any such activity.

Israel and the Palestinians

A Palestinian terrorist serving three life sentences was filmed by prisoners celebrating his engagement. Mobile phones are a no-no in the slammer, but I’m struck by how well-fed and comfortable everyone looks. So was the PA, which denounced the video. The Times of Israel explains:

The Maariv daily cited Palestinian Authority sources who expressed disapproval of the video, saying it could result in a tightening of conditions as it depicted life on the inside as being pleasant.

People who watch the video can fall under the impression that life in Israeli prisons is easy and all they do all the time is have parties and feasts,” the Palestinian sources were quoted as saying.

Why would Palestinians think that?

If you’re wondering about the groom’s rap sheet, Samar Abu Kwick, was involved in a November, 2000 drive-by shooting that killed school teacher Sarah Lisha and soldiers Elad Valenstein and Amit Zanah.

• Palestinian dies during clash with IDF soldiers near the security barrier. Daily Telegraph coverage.

• Bad news for the BDS movement: There’s now an asteroid named after Hebrew University.

The IAU’s Committee on Small Body Nomenclature is charged with approving names for asteroids (also known as minor planets) and comets. After rejecting the originally proposed name “Hebrewuniversity” as too long, the committee later accepted the informal nickname “Hebrewu,” and the asteroid’s name was announced on November 2.

Israel might actually submit itself to the UN Human Rights Council’s “universal periodic review.” Venezuela to Sit in Judgment of Israel?

• Professor Richard Landes weighs in on “Mohammed al-Dura and the tragic legacy of lethal journalism.”

Arab Spring Winter

Foreign Policy cites a State Dept. cable asserting that Bashar Assad is likely already using chemical weapons. But Assad will be encouraged to know that the White House is downplaying the report.

• Explosions rock University of Aleppo. Media reports put the death toll at 80 and rising. YNet writes:

Eyewitness reports, however, paint a different, horrific, picture: Tuesday was the first day of the winter semester in the university.

According to several students that survived the inferno, moments before Syrian Migs bombed the school, Assad’s syrian security forces swarmed the grounds and shut the building doors to prevent anyone from leaving.

“This was a premeditated massacre,” one student said. “There are no words to describe the scene.”

(Image of Abbas via YouTube/Euronews)

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.